First, Troy Harris was laid off from his job at Penn’s kosher dining hall where he’s worked for 20 years.

In a one-page typed letter, his employer, Bon Appétit Management Co., announced last week it would be letting go about 140 people by the end of March without further pay. The decision, it told the Daily Pennsylvanian, was made by its owner, Compass Group.

Bon Appétit offered employees little more than a list of organizations where they could seek help with emergency housing and food, which is more than they’ve been offered by a university with a nearly $15 billion endowment.

“It’s like they know a lot of people are going to be suffering, but they don’t care,” said Harris, a cook at Falk Dining Commons.

This is one Philadelphia family’s story. But it illustrates how the pandemic is playing out for lots of working-class families living paycheck to paycheck — even as they await stimulus checks that might not even reach them until May, more than a month away.

That’s two rent payments, five to six trips to the grocery store. Water. Electric. But sure, what’s a month between friends?

The cook and union shop steward was anxious about the fates of his family and those of his coworkers. But there was some comfort at least in knowing that his wife, Debra, still had a job at a West Philadelphia nursing home.

It wasn’t ideal work as the virus spread. After her $10.90-an-hour shifts, she’d walk into the house through a back door, shed her work clothes in the laundry room, and drop them in the washer before reuniting with her family, including a paralyzed son with a compromised immune system.

And then a couple of days before Debra was scheduled to work a double shift, she started to feel sick.

» READ MORE: How people with compromised immune systems are staying safe amid coronavirus

She went to the hospital, where she was tested for the flu, and when that came back negative, for the coronavirus.

She’s been mostly holed up in her bedroom since, waiting on results and worrying: How were they going to pay the bills? The rent, the electricity? Were they going to have enough from what little they had put aside for food?

A couple of people at her job have called to check up on her, she said. But no one’s mentioned anything about paid sick leave. She was just a few days’ short of completing her probationary period before getting sick.

She fears infecting her family, especially her son, a paraplegic. Azir, 19, was shot five times in 2018 after walking to a store with two friends to grab something to eat near their home at the Wilson Park housing development in South Philadelphia.

» READ MORE: Coronavirus layoffs in the Philly region are hitting hotel, restaurant, and nonprofit workers hard: ‘It’s total annihilation’

In the years since, the Harris family struggled to find wheelchair-accessible public housing to accommodate their whole family.

They were eventually forced to separate — Azir and his parents in one unit in one part of the city, his older siblings in another unit in another part of the city.

“It’s been hell for us,” Troy said at the time. “There really is no other way to say it.”

And then it got worse.

When Debra got sick, Azir asked his father if he should be worried.

“If my mom hugs me, am I going to get sick?”

Troy told him if they take precautions, they should be fine.

He jokes that he’s turned into a doctor: taking temperatures, reassuring everyone that everything will be OK, even if he stays up nights wondering if that’s true.

Students and alumni from Penn’s Jewish community stepped in to help, he said, much the way they did when his son was shot. A Change.org petition, called “Don’t Lay Off Penn Dining Workers,” has collected more than 8,000 signatures.

From the petition: “In a time where the world is relying on community to stay safe and healthy, Penn Dining and Bon Appetit are pulling the rug under from dining hall workers…"

Even before the pandemic, millions of Americans were one missed paycheck from financial disaster. These days it feels more as if hardworking Americans are standing on melting Arctic ice sheets with no rescue in sight.

“I’m just praying every day,” Troy said.