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In Seattle, It Started With Panic. Then the Deeper Anxiety Set In.


Ms. Kenney is the den-mother of the staff and she said she was mostly worried for her friends and their financial futures. Her husband, David Kenney, a landscaper, stood quietly beside her. “I have a husband with a job. We’ll be OK,” she said. “But it’s sad we won’t see our friends, we won’t see our regulars.” She started to cry. Her husband rubbed her back.

Eight miles north, in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood, Chrissy Hettich was holed up in her apartment trying to find the bright side.

A lifelong Seattle resident with a degree in Norwegian and anthropology from the University of Washington, Ms. Hettich, 27, has been working as a bartender for two and a half years at Purple Cafe & Wine Bar, in the city’s business district. Thanks to a clientele of bankers and tech executives with reliable expense accounts, Ms. Hettich was earning about $28 an hour including tips.

But business slowed down drastically March 4, she said, and it got worse from there. While everyone worries about paying the bills, financial stress is particularly triggering for Ms. Hettich, even though she does not yet have a family to support. “When I was in fifth grade, we lost our house to foreclosure, so I am really sensitive,” she said. “I’ve said if I can’t provide for my future children I’d fall apart. I never thought I’d have to say that as a healthy 27-year-old.”

Her greatest panic came when she wondered if she would be able to care for her cats, Brandy and Scotch, who were cuddled together on her bed. “I don’t care if I have to go without coffee or food or sell my couch. But if I have to give away my animals,” she said, “they’re all I have.”

She cried a lot in early March but got some good news last Thursday. During a meeting in which she expected to be laid off, the manager told her that she would remain employed, on a drastically scaled-back schedule. She then applied for partial unemployment benefits and was approved to receive $478 per week for 20 weeks.

A few hours later, her situation had shifted yet again. Late Sunday night, Gov. Jay Inslee signed an emergency declaration ordering all bars and restaurants in Washington to close.

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