MIDVALE (ABC4 News) – Over 33,000 Utahns filed new unemployment claims last week, each one of them not a statistic but a person with bills to pay.

It’s a difficult situation for employees who lost their jobs suddenly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and for people who were looking for work even before the coronavirus outbreak. 

Georges Latour, 55, had a spring in his step even as he entered the Utah Department of Workforce Service Offices in Midvale to renew his unemployment benefits. Latour says he was born in the West Indies but came to Utah at the age of 17 and now lives in West Valley City. He tells me he got laid off just before Christmas.

“It’s kind of hard just to make it, rent, you know,” Latour told ABC4 News. “I have to pay for everything by myself so whatever I’m getting here can’t even pay the bills, right now I’m behind on my bills.”

The father of four says he gets $300 a week from the state and just when he thought he had a job lined up, the pandemic arrived.

“When they called me they told me they can’t send me out because of the virus and they’re not accepting people from the outside right now so there you go,” Latour said. “I keep coming over here and filing my weekly claim.”

And he keeps making difficult decisions of which bills to pay…and which to delay.

“Right now I just pay partial of my rent and then she (his landlord) told me I have to pay the rest for this month,” Latour said. “Then next month is right around the corner so the bills keep on going up and I have a couple of loans with America First. I have to pay that by the 16th, behind on the rent, I paid some of that yesterday.”

Asked what he’s going to do if he doesn’t find work soon, Georges had a simple answer: “Pray,” he said.