Risks for many workers rise as rules relax

Getting personal protective equipment to healthcare workers is key to saving lives.

Getting personal protective equipment to healthcare workers is key to saving lives.

By Maribel Santos, Staff Writer

Rules and policies were made to be followed; over time these things diminish no matter the severity of the situation.

A pandemic has not happened since influenza in the early 1900s. Back then things were a bit more difficult and it was hard to handle the situation. However, as time progressed one would assume that the world would be better at handling a situation like a pandemic. Covid-19 has become one of the worst pandemics, and it has to do with the way it has been handled. In the beginning, many things shut down and closed down and only had essential stores and workers out. However, as time passed it seemed like the severity of this situation was dimmed.

As reported by Wharton University, essential workers had a 55 percent higher chance of testing positive for Covid-19. A very high number like that should be alarming and even persuade businesses to think about their workers’ health, but it seemed to be the opposite. As it has been one year since the pandemic started, it seems like businesses have become more careless than careful.

Time does not heal, and it has been seen as of lately. Now most workers are back at work and the precautions for the virus seem to be almost gone or neglected. There are many essential workers such as grocery store employees and most important of all, healthcare workers. They have been the backbone throughout the whole pandemic, and they have been going through rough times during these times. Grocery store employees have been working many hours to help customers in the store and complete online orders for customers who do not want to come to the store. These workers are risking their lives for people. Health care workers such as nurses, doctors, PA’s and more have been working like dogs day and night to help others and save as many lives as possible. Their precautions have become less careful recently, as well. There have been many videos on the media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that show healthcare workers begging for people to stay in for the sake of them. They are people as well and they are exhausted and their message is often overlooked.

In the beginning, the work policies and work environment were extremely strict on keeping everybody safe. Employees and customers were enforced to always have a mask and even gloves. A six feet distance was very much wanted and needed. Pre-work questions and temperature checks were implemented in workplaces to flatten the curve. Employees were made to clean every touchable surface and keep hand sanitizer available at all times for themselves and customers. Capacity limits were put into effect to promote distance. Borders from other countries were closed to stop traveling in hopes to stop spreading the virus. Most workers were sent to work at home to stop the spread as well. This routine should have stayed enforced to this day; however, it is no longer this safe anymore.

According to the websites of stores such as Walmart, Target, and Trader Joe’s they only state that they are indeed taking Covid precautions but are they that serious anymore? Many people have commented otherwise stating that the precautions taken for Covid are a bare minimum.

Jessica Bernal is a Walmart employee who has seen firsthand how a store like Walmart handles Covid and is very disappointed and astonished at what it has become.

“In the beginning when Covid first began, Walmart took it extremely seriously as they should have, with having pre-work temps taken and if anyone went over 98 for their temperature there was no hesitation to send them home. The number of workers and customers was limited. Now there are no pre-work temps, there are no more limits for capacity, a six feet distance is no longer existent,” she said.

Another essential employee Trinidad Sanchez who works at a restaurant that contains a bar as well, stated that the same thing happened at his workplace, the precautions slowly diminished to almost no precautions at all.

“The bar and grill I work at did not even have that serious of a Covid precaution, to begin with, only having to confirm every day that we did not feel any symptoms and wear our masks all the time. Now we do not get asked any questions at all and masks are required but not enforced. I feel unsafe most times, but I cannot afford to lose my form of income.” he said.

Bernal and Sanchez are experiencing the neglect of Covid and they are only store and restaurant employees, could you imagine how it is for a healthcare worker who is put at risk every single day to save our community. There are many forms of social media but mainly on Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok, healthcare workers share their experience during this pandemic. They share the difficulties of  always wearing a medical mask and an N95 mask for more than 12 hours a day. They have PPE on all the time and are being forced to work inhumane hours.

Reyna Casiano is a college student who is working at a hospital and has seen how difficult it is for healthcare workers. She feels a little uneasy with the precaution at the hospital.

“I work in the riskiest place on earth right now, and somehow our precautions for this virus seems minimal as well,” she said. “When you clock in for work all you do is answer all the questions needed to ask and wear a medical mask, unless you are in the Covid unit, you’re required to wear an N95 mask. I feel as if we should get our temperatures checked as well, and wear PPE at all times. PPE such as like gowns and gloves, and face shields. I would just feel safer, but it is what it is.”

A workplace is supposed to be a place where one can feel comfortable and at peace when earning  their income to survive. However, it seems like during this pandemic many essential employees are feeling extremely uneasy with how Covid precautions are being handled. Sometimes a workplace can already be overwhelming and toxic and feeling at risk cannot make it any better.

All essential employees, such as stores, restaurants, and most important of all healthcare workers, need to be heard and understood right now. They are all playing a part in helping the community and it seems like they are the most overlooked. We need to protect each other to make it through hard times like a pandemic.