Pandemic impacts essential workers

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The COVID-19 pandemic has shown whose jobs are  essential to keeping our society going, and the pandemic has greatly affected these places and the people who work hard to keep them running.

Many jobs people might not initially think are essential have proven to be just that. During a pandemic where people are staying inside and working and schooling from home, office supply stores still have fairly consistent customers.

Kristofer Freeman, sales associate at Office Depot, said he was surprised that his job became so important during the pandemic.

“After thinking about it and seeing all the reasons people were coming in during the pandemic, it made sense,” Freeman said. “It was surprising, but I understand why.”

Freeman said the pandemic affected their back-to-school sales, which is usually their busiest time.

“We had a really (small) amount of people coming in for back-to-school,” Freeman said. “The rest of the year we’ve been selling a lot of tech stuff and furniture that people need to work from home or for school, so it balances out.”

Fernando Torres, sophomore business administration major works at a Home Depot warehouse loading trucks.

“As more online shopping is done the need for warehouse workers has increased but we don’t have to deal with customers face to face,” Torres said. “We do also ship to stores, since you can actually go to a Home Depot and shop there as well but it has been pretty slow as of late, it may also be because the holidays are coming and no one is spending too much money on home improvement.”

Wayne Fletcher, interim dean for the Jabs School of Business, said that while essential workers have not been as impacted financially by the pandemic, they are putting themselves at risk.

“Essential workers, in many respects, have been the least negatively impacted from a financial perspective,” Fletcher said. “Their jobs have continued. However, in some cases, these workers have certainly experienced negative outcomes as a result of being asked to work overtime in a short-staffed environment. The healthcare workers have been particularly negatively affected as COVID(-19) often attacked that work force, incapacitating and killing some and leaving others to manage an increased work load while putting their own health at risk.”

Our world and economic landscape has changed, but we will recover, and we have essential workers to thank for keeping us going during a difficult time.

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