The coronavirus pandemic is quickly reshaping the American economy. In fact, roughly 6.6 million people filed jobless claims in the final week of March.
While this figure is staggering, it comes as little surprise given the actions of the government. Both the federal and state governments issued stay-at-home orders for all non-essential individuals and businesses. The objective is to stop the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
Even during these dangerous times, many workers still have to report each day. Read on to learn what it is like to be an essential worker during the COVID-19 pandemic. Explore topics like the definition of essential and what type of workers fit this category.
What Is an Essential Worker?
Essential workers come in many different forms across various industries. The government has not provided an exact definition, but rather coined essential workers as coming from critical infrastructure industries. The Department of Homeland Security classifies essential jobs and asks that they maintain a normal work schedule.
What Are the Risks?
Essential employees are risking their health and well-being on a daily basis. They are directly exposed to the coronavirus in their profession. In addition, they risk exposing their family members by bringing the virus home.
Depending on the profession, they may not have access to Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Lacking PPE makes the job more dangerous as there is no defense against COVID-19.
Some employers are providing employees with hazard pay or hourly wage increases for their continued work. Others are operating as normal and not adjusting their employees’ pay.
What Are Some Examples?
The types of employees that fall under the essential classification are wide-ranging. Read more here for common jobs that are considered essential.
Obviously, those working in the healthcare industry are considered essential. This field includes doctors, nurses, and other caregivers. These occupations are on the front line in the fight against COVID-19.
Pharmacies are also open during the coronavirus pandemic. People need continued access to prescription drugs.
First responders are another essential labor category. Police, firefighters, and EMTs all fall under the first responder designation. They are also on the front line and directly exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis.
Grocery and Food Supply
The coronavirus pandemic has shined a new light on the importance of grocery and food supply. Cashiers and inventory workers are possibly at more risk than any other job type. They are dealing with thousands of people per day. Therefore, there is a significant risk that they are exposed to COVID-19.
The truck drivers that deliver food supplies are also considered essential. They are driving long hours to make sure the American people are fed and not panicking over food shortages.
Utilities and Energy
Utility and energy workers are also essential. These workers guarantee that the American people still have electricity, heat, and fuel.
Wrapping It Up
These are unprecedented times for the world. Fortunately, there are millions of brave workers that are risking their health each day. Many of these workers were not appreciated before, but are now considered heroes.
If you enjoyed this article about the essential worker, check out our blog for more great content.