Many people risk their lives every day to save others. This was true before COVID-19, but now many people who work in the service industry are suddenly in this position. People who used to feel safe in their work now have to risk exposure every day to save others.
On CBS’ The View, Meghan McCain said that “these people are putting their lives on the line, putting their families at risk, just for us to be able to get our groceries and needed packages, and whatever else.”
McCain’s co-host Sunny Hostin agreed. “They are frontline workers at this point.”
Luis Torres, a worker at Walmart in East Windsor, CT, reminds people to consider who they are potentially exposing when they go out shopping.
“You’re putting our workers in risk also,” Torres said. “And that’s what the customers don’t know. Just because you want to protect your family, you’re putting at risk another person’s family.”
Everyone is playing a guessing game of who is infected and who isn’t.
Meghan McCain thought that this meant that “Essential workers should be paid double for ‘putting their lives on the line’ during the pandemic.”
Jariksa Delgado, a department manager at the same Walmart, explained how she feels in her workplace.
“You are scared of grabbing something on the shelf because you don’t know who touched it,” Delgado said. “And you don’t know if that person had the virus or not. This has turned into a guessing game, [but] a lot more serious. Because one mistake can cost you… it can cost you and everyone around you.”
Both Torres and Delgado agreed with McCain about doubling wages for those working with the public at this time.
Torres said, “It’s the fair thing since we are putting ourselves at risk.”
Delgado agreed. “It’s a big risk that we’re running right now that could put us in the hospital.”
While many of us underestimated the impact COVID-19 would have on the world, overestimating our danger could lead to stress-based illnesses.
An article in Psychology Today, posted on March 3, 2020, notes that the media isn’t helping those who may be anxious.
“The news outlets devote more time to emerging health hazards, like the COVID-19 outbreak, than common health threats. Anxious or fearful individuals tend to pay more attention to threat-related information, which then drives up their anxiety and distress.”
But the threat is real. As of this writing, there are over 2.5 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and over 800,000 in the U.S.
“It’s something that I thought… was going to go quickly,” Delgado said. “Probably less than a week, I gave it. That was my mistake. I underestimated the virus—and look at us.”
Torres reminds us that little things go a long way to helping everyone get through this pandemic safely. “First things first: everyone stay safe,” Torres said. “And don’t leave your house for no reason.”
Simply staying home, however boring that may feel, could be the most important thing you do to save lives.
Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash