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’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

It’s been weeks since President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum that was supposed to get the federal government back into the business of topping up unemployment benefits, to $400 a week. Few states, however, are currently paying even part of the benefit that the president promised. And, it looks like, in most states, the maximum additional benefit unemployment recipients will be able to get is $300.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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