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Employed As An Essential Worker In The COVID-19 World

Essentially Exhausted


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Katevious Love

3 years ago | 4 min read

When the world shuts down and you find yourself as one of the few people who are still able to work, a lot of things become clear very quickly, there is no time to panic. It’s not a high-pressure situation at first. It’s more of a gnawing sense of anxiety.

The entire world is shifting and most of the people that you know are laying low in their homes while you have to go out every day and adjust to a new kind of world.

I can’t speak for the experience that every essential worker is having, but I can explain mine and the interactions I have with others.

You Have To Do The Same Work, But Different

The strangest part of being an essential worker is that you still have to go into work as if everything is fine. You have to show up and carry out the usual tasks, but everything is different.

From constant changes in how your work is done to the exponentially increased workloads, you are on the front lines and can’t avoid all contact with others.

Every essential worker is currently grappling with doing their same job in a world where we are all armored behind protective screens, wearing masks, and constantly washing our hands or using hand sanitizer.

It’s hard to shy away from the potentially permanent facial scars and hair loss from very long hours of n95 wear and the cracked skin on our hands. Our jobs are the same, but we have to learn and cope through a wide range of new procedures all while hoping that we don’t get sick ourselves.

“It’s hard to shy away from the potentially permanent facial scars and hair loss from very long hours of n95 wear and the cracked skin on our hands.”

Tea With MD PPE Skin Protection

The Fear of Illness is Real

As an essential worker, you have to come to terms with the idea very quickly that you are at a much higher risk than everyone else. While everyone else is at home, locked away from other people, we are in the most populated places.

We are the people who have to interact with everyone, and we have no way of knowing how many of them are infected. Not to mention some essential workers do not want to be essential.

They are struggling with interacting with their coworkers, carrying out daily tasks, and managing the mental strain of potential exposure to their loved ones.

The CDC has been obvious about the reality that a lot of people are spreading the virus without knowing, and we have to live in constant fear that we are being routinely exposed.

Relying on new makeshift procedures to stay safe doesn’t make you feel any better when you are wondering what you can’t see that might harm you.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Risks and Rewards

Right now, the world has been turned upsidedown. Essential employees are people who are relying on their jobs, just like we all are, to make a living and feed their families.

However, there is a lot of animosities online towards essential workers because we “still have [our] jobs” and are expected to be grateful no matter the sacrifices. It’s apprehensible being that over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment during the course of the pandemic.

I am grateful that I can still work and have an income, yet I also understand living in constant fear of how exposed one might be to the virus and of exposing others. It isn’t easy.

Essential employees occupy jobs disproportionately held by women, especially women of color and these are most likely not high paying jobs. Most of these jobs are also often underappreciated and underrecognized.

Yet, again a lot of people have lost their jobs, unemployment has reached record highs of over 23% so the idea of simply finding another job for those dissatisfied and torn between their own safety and that of helping others, is not an easy option in this climate.

Most essential employees are truly beholden and filled with a sense of pride being able to play a role in helping others during this time regardless of the risks and their individual safety.

“Over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment during the course of the pandemic.”

federalsoup.com

COVID-19 is making life a lot harder for all of us. There are people afraid of losing their jobs, people afraid of getting sick, people who are feeling their mental illness spike because they are trapped inside.

No one has it easy right now, but that is why we need to be considerate of what everyone else is feeling. As an essential worker, I worry every day. Not just for me, but also for all of us in these hard times. All we can do is treat people well and do your best to stay safe.

This article was originally published by Katevious Love on medium.

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