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COVID-19

Some must go to work, as others work remotely to avoid COVID-19 exposure

Jasmine Garsd Mar 18, 2020
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Essential jobs, like sanitation services and firefighters, can't be done from home. Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Some must go to work, as others work remotely to avoid COVID-19 exposure

Jasmine Garsd Mar 18, 2020
Essential jobs, like sanitation services and firefighters, can't be done from home. Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

More and more people are being asked to work from home in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. But in order to keep cities and states running, some people just cannot work from home, like firefighters, paramedics and sanitation workers.

Douglas Washington drives a sanitation truck throughout New York City. Washington pulled over to speak to me on his Queens route. He said sanitation workers often feel like supermen with amazing immune systems from handling city waste. But he’s worried about his family getting ill.

“I’m nervous because I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Washington said. “In all my 25 years in the industry … all the outbreaks of diseases or viruses that have occurred.”

John D’Alessandro, a volunteer firefighter in upstate New York, said one precaution his team is taking is with their gear.

“We wear certain personal protective equipment: glove, facial, respirator,” he said. “We’re limiting the time that people spend at the station.”

Ron Kuley, a trained EMT in Fairfax, Virginia, said other people in the community should stick to social distancing to help first responders.

“Stay in place. If there’s no reason to go out, don’t go out,” Kuley said. “Let’s not overwhelm our 911 or our emergency rooms.”

He said his department hasn’t seen an increase in calls so far. But it is bracing for that and making plans on how to stay in operation if at least 25% of his co-workers start to get sick.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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