As the COVID-19 continues to spread, essential workers put their health on the line every day to keep the economy functional.
Double shifts, inadequate childcare, and constant health risks are just a couple of the problems that employees face while the rest of the nation stays home.
Even though many in the food and medical industries are still able to clock in, their job description changes constantly. Hospice nurse Faelynn Kartchner shared what that looks like for her.
“Since we go into homes, we have to assume everyone is infected when we go visit patients,” stated Kartchner. “Our protocols are changed every single day. And everybody’s role in health care changed, not just ours. It’s overwhelming at times, the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of everything.”
For these essential employees, going to work is a matter of life and death. This pandemic has turned business into another holiday season for retail workers. Many of them work overtime to keep shelves stocked, stores clean, and customers spread apart.
“It’s hard at times because people are not always in the best mood because of this. It’s difficult working and having people get mad about quantity limits or other things that we have no control over.” said Lin’s cashier Breanna C.
Breanna also noted that it makes sense that people are a little on edge. Whether essential or not, most everyone is struggling right now. Those who aren’t essential are expected to stay at home without income and all the uncertainty that unemployment brings.
Because they are out in public, essential employees have a front row seat to how the community is responding to advised precautions. Tabbitha, a local gas station attendant, noticed that the same customers come in every day out of habit for their burrito or drink. She said that one way they can help is simply skipping the daily snack.
“It’d be better for them to stay home unless it’s a necessary trip because their habit is putting other people at risk.”
Even though it’s a stressful time, these workers who are in the thick of it can more clearly see the positive effects it’s having in the community. Kartchner noted some of the silver linings that she’s seen from the pandemic, including a greater sense of unity both among healthcare workers and people in the general population.
Everyone can do their part to support essential workers by spending wisely, supporting local business, staying home and being kind. Staying in and washing your hands not only helps workers do their job but can also save lives.
“Trust in us to do our jobs. Trust the authorities are giving you the best information. Do it for the sake of humanity,” Kartchner said. “Look at it as a global thing and not a personal thing. You are making a difference just by staying home.”
Story by Larissa Beatty
Photos Courtesy of Unsplash.com
*Breanna C. and Tabbitha declined to provide their last names.