Defining essential workers


During the COVID-19 pandemic, certain employees have been ordered to continue work, while others have been told to stay home.

In the state of Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan enacted a “stay-at-home” order for residents across the state. According to The Baltimore Sun, “The order means residents can only leave their home for essential work or urgent medical care, to get food or prescriptions or for other ‘absolutely necessary’ reasons.” Hogan said his decision largely arose from the possibility that the disease could spread to “literally thousands” in Maryland, “including hospitals, detention centers and nursing homes.”

During this time, non-essential businesses have closed temporarily to reduce interactions and prevent contamination. However, certain businesses have been given approval from the state to continue operating. These businesses include grocery stores, convenience stores, manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceuticals and chemicals, maintenance and construction services, TV, radio, internet services, defense and emergency services, energy services, banks, transportation, and mail delivery services.

Sophomore Tessa Skrocki works at WaWa, and as an essential employee, she is required to work the same number of hours that she usually would and more, due to being out of school. “Sometimes I am worried of being at risk because of the amount of people that are coming to WaWa still, and a lot of the jobs I do there are not for essential reasons, like making a milkshake or someone’s coffee,” she says. Skrocki adds that she thinks people should stay home unless it is an absolute emergency because “they’re putting the workers and themselves in danger.”

Senior Kassidy Maners also has an essential job. “I work at a nursing home, and we have to wear masks and gloves now. It really affects the elderly because they do not get to see their loved ones,” she says. However, to keep positivity during this time, “[They] have dress up days for the workers where we try to make everyone laugh and stay positive.”

Junior Andrew Patton works at Clarks Sales and Services, a supply firm, where he is facing changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Work is definitely a different experience now. We have to be extra cautious, making sure to wipe down the credit card scanners after each person uses it, and we wipe down the counters regularly,” he says. Patton also mentions that they are consistently spraying Lysol to kill germs, and that everyone is doing their best to follow the regulations and slow down the spread.

Junior Grant Pfaff recalls a time recently where his work was cleaned in its entirety due to the virus. “I wear a mask, I keep my distance from people, and I wash my hands a lot,” he says. He also mentions that it is important for people everywhere to stay home for the temporary closing and quarantine orders to be lifted as soon as possible.