JAMESTOWN, N.D. — Sabrina Hornung was the editor-in-chief at the High Plains Reader until the pandemic hit in mid-March, which led to her being furloughed.
When the first round of stimulus checks came her way, she said it was like Christmas morning.
"I was able to pay off some debts, so that was extremely helpful," Hornung said.
During her layoff, Hornung had thoughts of working as a bartender to make ends meet, but she had a setback: She tested positive for COVID-19.
"When I found out (I tested positive), it's just like, 'Okay, so how's this going to shake out? Should I start writing my obituary, or should I look into herbal supplements,'" she said.
Hornung said her positive test made her realize how powerful the virus is, and the uncertain path of it has kept her away from the job market.
Good news came when Congress announced more stimulus money would come, but representatives are still deciding how much.
Democrats want unemployed workers to keep getting $600 per week until January, while Republicans, including Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., want it to be slashed to $200 per week.
Armstrong said, in a statement, the Democrats' proposal might discourage people from returning to work.
"Unemployment, even during a pandemic, cannot continue to pay more than employment," the statement read.
Hornung said she and families she knows have been waiting on the edge of their seats for a decision from Congress.
"It's scary enough having that burden," she said. "I imagine supporting (any) family, but how do you even explain to your kids what's going on?"
Until the bill for stimulus checks either passes or fails, Hornung said she'll do her best to get by with what's left of her savings, but if there isn't a round of checks, she hopes to go back through the Reader's doors soon.
"The scariest part is not knowing what's out there," she said. "I enjoy writing, I miss my job, I miss working for the Reader."