These are trying times and we are all being affected. This pandemic means a different way of life for the next coming months, sending ripples of shutdown across the globe. On a lighter note, we are living through history, and we requested the help from our community to record it. While it might be something we all want to avoid thinking about right now, it’s something we will want to remember down the road. Everyone’s stories and feelings are valid, and we want to hear yours. If you would like to submit you own perspective, email it to [email protected] As a staff, the LN North Star has gathered multiple distinct perspectives from the community in dealing with this hectic time. Today, we will be focusing on responses from the essential workers in the community.
Micole Turner, US Postal Service employee
I am a mother of five, Mimi of two and now an essential employee for the United States Postal Service for 20 years. The Coronavirus has affected me in many ways. I work 12 hours daily in a warehouse setting that is hazardous, unsafe, and has not been properly sanitized. As a single parent it was already hectic trying to balance work, home, and personal life. School being out is a challenge while I’m at work, my kids are at home alone . I have to do a lot of parenting by phone, and trust that they are doing their E-Learning, instead of laying around. Kids need school structure and parents want to feel that their child is in a learning environment. I also do not like the fact that I am not able to quarantine, like the rest of the world. Everyday I go to work there is a risk that I’m taking contracting the virus, and transmitting it to my family. A typical work day starts at 5 a.m. Before I go into my job I take my temperature and put on my mask and gloves. I then sanitize my own work area. By 12:30 p.m., I take my temperature again to ensure I’m not getting a fever. Once I leave work at 5:30 a.m. and get home, I immediately take my work clothes off and shower before I do anything. I change into my PJs and assist my kids with any work, only to repeat the same process over and over. Keep in mind I’m doing this without any hazardous pay like all the other companies.
Michael Inman, General Manager of Penske Collision Center
I was concerned about the economy, and my employees and whether I would still have a job. I was also concerned about keeping everyone safe and healthy. I am the General Manager of Penske Collision Center. This shutdown has impacted my work life because the stay at home order has greatly reduced traffic which has reduced collision claims resulting in less business. My everyday routine has changed even though we are an essential business, we have shortened hours as well as staff. Personally my job duties have increased due to the furloughing of 30% of my employees. Shortening my hours and my staff has impacted me financially, and emotionally. I’m worried about when we will get back to a new normal and when I’ll get my employees back to work.
I find it sad going out and seeing the businesses that are closed, the empty parking lots, no spring sports going on, no graduation ceremonies, not being able to go on spring break and being out of my regular routine. The plus side is that the 25 minute drive is now 10 minutes since no one is on the road. I am looking forward to getting back to somewhat normal, with businesses opening, and being able to find toilet paper.
Oseye Boyd, Editor of Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper and Indiana Minority Business Magazine
As editor of a weekly newspaper, website and magazine, my plate is already full. However, COVID-19 changed my job almost immediately. Articles we planned for the paper were scrapped to focus on this new pandemic. In the very beginning, things were changing rapidly, and as a news organization we had to keep up. It meant continually updating our plans to the latest information. Especially when the stay-at-home orders occurred — which were issued both city wide and statewide. We tune into the governor’s press conference daily. These conferences give us updates and stories for follow up.
In addition, the Recorder now hosts virtual town hall discussions on various topics related to COVID-19. The first town hall was March 19. I share host duties with columnist Marshawn Wolley and rotate moderating every week. We do two to three town halls a week — one in a partnership with New America, a public policy think tank, and one by ourselves. These town halls have been informative and our community continues to request more on topics that we haven’t covered yet. While adding on to my workload, the town halls have increased the Recorder’s presence and proved to be a vital resource to our community — continuing the legacy of the 125-year-old Black-owned newspaper. I spend time prepping for each town hall.
I’m also making more appearances on radio and TV to promote the town halls.
We’ve also changed how we operate in the office. To mitigate the spread of the virus and make people feel safe, we closed the office to the public. We are closed on Fridays. Since the reporters share the newsroom, I have allowed them to alternate days working from home two days a week. They’re only in the office together for two days — Wednesday and Thursday.
Anne Taylor, RN in a COVID-19 unit
I’ve been an RN for 25 years. I knew nurses would be on the front line of this epidemic. I recover patients after surgery. But for the previous 5 years I had been the educator for the 7th floor. The week of 3/8 overnight the 7th floor became the COVID-19 unit. The staff weren’t given a choice. Most have less than 3 years experience. They were a surgical unit & now a medical unit. They were going to need help & leadership.
March 30th I started working a COVID-19 unit. I questioned why I had volunteered, but I knew it was the right thing to do.
My first shift I had three COVID-19 positive patients. I got them all doing deep breathing exercises. The next day one was discharged. One of my patients was worse. I tried everything to get him to eat, deep breath & cough. He wouldn’t. That night I had to call his family & let them know he was dying. I’ve never had to care for a dying patient whose family wasn’t allowed to see them. It’s hard. I went in every hour to let him know he was not alone. That he was loved. I held his hand. I played soothing music. I hope he knew he was cared for. I hope his family can take comfort in knowing that he was taken care of until the end.
I hope this never happens again! I’m so grateful to everyone who is supporting health care workers. We’ve had meals. The firemen & EMTs have lined up, honked their horns, run their lights, and sirens to show their support.
If there’s anything good that’s come out of this it’s that we have all grown closer. We’ve all realized how much we need each other. How many It takes to make society work. No one is unimportant. Every life is precious. That’s why I’m a nurse. I try to protect every life that I care for.
David C. Hofmann, Chief of Police, Lawrence Police Department
For Lawrence Police Officers and all front line public safety personnel, the emergence of COVID-19 in our community has drastically changed much of what we do in many ways. You asked for my reaction to the situation. Early on, I was unaware of the impact this virus would have on us in the United States. When this really became breaking news back in February, I was enjoying a cruise out of Long Beach, California with about 20 friends and family. Yes, a CRUISE. If you recall, west coast cruise ships were the first targets of the virus. It was all over the news. Luckily, nobody on our ship tested positive, and we were allowed to come home with only one extra day of quarantine.
When we got home, that’s when preparations were beginning in full force. It was like they were tracking a Category 5 hurricane that was about to make landfall on the entire nation. Our daily routines slowly began to transform. We followed very closely our local and national public health experts for guidance. I watched as recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the Indiana State Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) and the Marion County Department of Public Health were issued and began implementing them within Lawrence PD. I toured the Marion County Emergency Operations Center and began attending daily briefings (virtually). I still do that.
At LPD, we developed a Health Crisis Emergency Plan, which would be deployed in the event we experienced a large number of officers becoming infected. We implemented strict infectious disease protocols for our officers, not just in the field, but in and around each other. We closed our new Police Headquarters Building to the public. We shut-down access to our 911 Center. All employees capable of working from home were instructed to do that. Our I.T. Division scrambled to get everyone’s remote connectivity up and running. In-person meeting with Crime Watch Groups, business leaders, churches, schools, and our ongoing Citizen’s Academy were all put on “hold.” We began using our Social Media platforms to communicate to our public online as a result. All training was stopped.
My police family was prepared and healthy. My family at home was another concern, of course. I have two children who were both away at college. They were sent home when classes went online only. They are both doing well finishing their courses. My wife, a nurse, continues to provide healthcare to very vulnerable patients. We play a lot of cards when we are all home together. We use Zoom and Facetime to see other family and friends. We’re watching a lot of Netflix. We text others, now more than ever, probably like all Americans are doing. We are trying to stay connected, positive and healthy.
Although I feel terrible for all the people, the families, who were looking forward to high school and college graduations; And those who had planned weddings; All the student athletes whose seasons were cancelled; The Lawrence North Men’s Basketball team was on their way to a State Championship… I also realize that thousands of Americans are dying because of this. Countless families are simply and permanently devastated at the loss of loved ones who they could not even see for a final time. That’s the real toll in all of this.
I’ll conclude by saying this terrible deadly public health crisis has also shown me the absolute best in humanity. All those doctors, nurses, military members and healthcare professionals everywhere who continue to put others before themselves have been stepping-up for weeks, almost months now, with little time to rest, at great risk to themselves. The farmers, truckers and all the people who keep our food supply up and running; the teachers who have adjusted to keep their educational efforts going (online) for their students; and of course the public safety personnel such as police officers, firefighters and medics who often must go face-to-face with infected personnel who are sometimes violent criminals that try to fight and injure them… they all have shown their true dedication and character. Remember, times like these don’t build character; they reveal it. And thousands of people have revealed their awesome character.
Be safe and well. We’ll get through this and be stronger for it.
Sophomore Adan Rosales, Culver’s employee
When I started this year out, I really just wanted to come back from a poor off season with bad personal choices, and wanted to run fast with my teammates. Unfortunately I made more poor choices and hurt my second cross country season. I had huge projections for Cross Country based off my first freshman track season running. I started to pull things together and could not wait to get to the track, which was put on hold by a minor stress fracture in my left femur and the coronavirus. I still continue to improve for next Cross Country season but in the meanwhile I am working at Culver’s and doing eLearning. I have been working many hours and trying to help my community eat due to many businesses having trouble getting food out at these moments. My job is having great success at adjusting to changes made by the health department and everything. We have made new methods, including pulling cars over from the drive through and taking the orders off of google docs. When you walk in there in the midst of all this it is just a very organized chaos. If you did not know what you were doing you would see it as crazy, but everyone is working just to get orders out and correct. Everyone has adjusted to wearing gloves, washing our hands, wearing our face mask, changing our gloves constantly, and much more. We have done anything possible to make sure we are safe. We have found great success at the moment and have even ran out of certain ingredients at times. We have all adjusted to this and are working hard to make sure everyone is safe and fed.
Senior Hannah Melick, Subway employee
Through all of this, I’m still working. I work at Subway so I make sandwiches, though I prefer to be termed a sandwich artist, thank you very much. Anyway, it’s weird. Earlier on when restaurants were first starting to feel the effects, I remember walking up to my Subway with locked doors. A coworker was sweeping the floor as all the chairs were on tabletops, pushed out of the way. One day, I remember even coming into work and there were pieces of paper sitting on the counter in the back, basically a hall pass for essential workers to allow them to be out in this mess if it ever got to the point where the police or other authority figures got involved. Scary stuff… The first week following the news with all its sudden changes, business was slow. Every time I went in at the beginning of my shift, my coworkers and I would update each other on the latest news, sharing our oohs and ahhs. I was worried for my coworkers. Although I usually work with other teenagers, I also work with mothers. I felt like there was no space for me to complain because they had the possibility of having their paychecks being affected, their livelihood. It’s a scary time. Thankfully, we are still open but not everyone has that privilege and my heart goes out to those who don’t. I am not reliant on my paycheck so this doesn’t hold as much weight, but I am grateful for still being able to work during this time because it gives me a distraction. A healthy distraction too because I am making that mula. Although business started slow in the first weeks, it has been insanely busy these past few weeks in comparison with everything going on. It’s honestly a bit disheartening. Just going out in the streets, there still seems to be so many cars… I understand going out and getting food every once in a while or maybe just going out for a drive (that’s become one of my biggest hobbies in this), but it’s hard when my immediate thought is people aren’t doing their part.
I still remember where I was when I first heard the news. I was working, actually. I got a text from my mom, and I almost didn’t believe it. I thought surely she was lying or playing some kind of joke, and I certainly was going to look it up before anything. But my coworker beat me to it. We shared in the news and jumped for joy. It felt surreal, almost out of a movie. And I’m 152 percent sure we scared the customers sitting in the front (which was still allowed at the time). We were excited. Obviously, we didn’t expect it to reach this extent.
At the time when it all started getting worse and conversations were had, is it weird to say I had a bit of morbid excitement? Not because the globe was going through an unforeseeable pandemic, but I think because it would be a change of pace, a step out of normalcy. But that was before things took a turn.
Anita Williams, nurse
I’m considered an essential worker and it’s dangerous out there. COVID-19 is something I have never seen in all my years of working in the health field. It is discouraging to watch these people suffer. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals aren’t sure how to treat COVID-19. It makes me feel bad not knowing exactly how to help these patients. The only way I know how to help is by risking my life and doing my best to care for people. However, these past weeks I had to protect myself instead of everyone else. I have worked at the hospital nearby for almost ten years. I have recently left my job because I have a three-month-old baby. I worry about contracting the disease and passing it to her. Also, I need to file for unemployment soon. Before I left I was a nurse for a pediatric doctor, but I was asked to work with COVID-19 patients. My supervisors were afraid there would be a shortage of nurses. So I risked my life even though I ended up leaving. The advice I would give to those out there is to take this disease seriously. It is very easy to contract and depending on your age and background your symptoms can vary as well as the severity of Corona. Wash your hands and disinfect regularly. If you live in a state that has decided to lift regulations do not leave your house. Continue to practice social distancing for the next several months. I do not know when this will be over, but I hope it will soon. Until then stay safe and healthy.