From grocery store workers to healthcare professionals, thousands of essential workers have found themselves on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. So, we recently asked them to show us what it's actually like at their jobs right now. Here are their powerful submissions.
1."I’m decked out in personal protective equipment 12 hours a day. I'm in patients' rooms for ages, and I get so hot that I feel like I’m going to pass out or vomit.
2."I work at a restaurant that’s considered essential. I have to constantly wash my hands and use bleach cleaning products. Even though I constantly use lotion and sleep with gloves on, my hands still crack and bleed."
3."I'm a cashier, and my experiences with customers run the gamut: I got a rose as a thank-you from one customer, but got coughed on by another customer who was mad about her total."
4."We are still flying — just not a lot of passengers."
5."I work at a group home for autistic adults. I am quarantined at my job for upwards of 90 days, and we are not allowed to leave at all or see anyone outside the house."
6."I’m a medical office assistant at an opiate addiction clinic. Here’s hoping we can stay safe — not just for ourselves, but for the people who need our clinic to stay open."
7."I work at the airport. What would normally be a packed concourse is eerily quiet."
8."It's non-stop at the grocery store. Our shelves are always half-stocked or empty. Trucks may come in, but people are still hoarding things, despite our restrictions."
9."I work at an indoor therapy pool for a retirement community. Usually the pool is full for classes and free swim time."
10."I'm a music therapist in a skilled nursing facility. It's so hard not to be able to hug my residents during a time when they are confused and upset about why they can't leave their rooms or see their friends in the building, or why their family members aren't visiting."
11."I’m a bank teller: Our lobbies are all closed and we are drive-thru only. This picture was taken 20 minutes before we even opened."
12."This is the new normal as a nurse in assisted living: overtired and always unsure of what's next."
13."I'm a resident surgeon, but I was posted in the sampling team. We go into a community (suspected cases are reported to us by a surveillance team) and we get samples of suspected individuals."
14."I'm a delivery driver for a winery and brewery. I used to mainly deliver kegs to bars and restaurants. Now it's wine, cider, and a lot of home brewing supplies to individual people."
15."I work in patient care at the reception desk, where there is plexiglass up to prevent any contact with outside patients. It's great that patients are staying home if they can, but I'm becoming worried about my paycheck."
16."I work as a nurse in a cancer center and we get one surgical mask to wear before lunch and one after. We have caught patients trying to steal gloves and other supplies from our exam rooms, so now we have to hide them."
17."It's claustrophobic, but very organized to ensure staff aren’t in PPE longer than they need to be. It's been warm lately, which makes wearing all that gear much harder."
18."This was taken the day I actually managed to get a mask and gloves. There's still a serious lack of protective equipment, yet I still go to work."
19."I am a data analyst at an Amazon fulfillment center. I go through the daily temperature checks, the social distancing, and the constant anxiety-inducing fear that my husband or I will unknowingly bring the virus home to our 4-year-old son."
20."I'm working as a student nurse and a healthcare assistant and am so proud that I’m able to care for patients during these difficult times."
21."It’s FREEZING in the Covid testing tent in St. Louis. But I’m here to stick a swab up your nose!"
From the bottom of our hearts, a big thank you to all essential workers!
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Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.