Scared to work, but don't have a choice: what you should do

Last updated: June 23, 2024
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Amy Carleton
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Scared to work, but don't have a choice: what you should do
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It's okay to feel the way you do

Though layoffs have been a reality for many Americans during the Coronavirus crisis, there are still a big group of people that are still going to work every day. People working in places like grocery stores, in product warehouses, for public transit, and hospitals--just to name a few--are at increased risk of exposure every time they go to work.

For some, this stress overshadows their relief that they still have a job. You might be in this situation yourself. And if you are, it is perfectly natural to have these feelings and to wonder whether you should stay working or stay at home until the spread of Covid-19 has slowed down.

The risk of #Coronavirus is real: here is what we know

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus

  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks

  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms (asymptomatic)

This is what we can do to protect ourselves:

  • Wash your hands often

  • Avoid close contact

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others

  • Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Clean and disinfect touched surfaces daily

Also: self monitoring our own health and staying home if we don’t feel well are also essential steps to keeping the virus from spreading.

Assessing your employer's Covid-19 safety protocol

Though nothing is 100% guaranteed, we can reduce the likelihood of infection by taking the precautions mentioned above. Given that, if you are weighing your decision to stay working or take some time off at home, one thing that might factor in your decision is how prepared your employer is with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves, eye shields, and other protective gear.

Also, depending on your work environment--are surfaces and tools regularly sanitized and wiped down? Are there well-marked social distancing parameters when appropriate? Is your employer checking in on the health and wellness of employees through temperature checks or Covid-19 testing? Amazon and Whole Foods are now checking the temperature of more than 100,000 of their workers daily, for example.

Does your employer actively communicate to employees the importance of staying home if they are feeling sick or under the weather? If you are unsure whether your employer meets the basic safety guidelines during this time, you can refer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) recommendations here.

Weighing your personal risk of exposure to Covid-19

Even if your employer is actively taking steps to protect employees, only you can assess your personal risks. Asking yourself questions about your health and living situation can help you see the full picture. Are you a high-risk worker, or living with someone who is?

  • Do you live with elderly or immunocompromised people?

  • Do you have a preexisting health condition?

  • Are you able to wash clothes and outerwear upon your return home?

Finally, if you decide to stay home, can you afford an interruption in your income? Will you be eligible for unemployment if you leave? Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) portion of the CARES Act, some of the expanded unemployment guidelines do allow at-risk employees to file for benefits if they are unable to work due to Covid-19 concerns. Check your state’s unemployment benefits page for more information.

In the end, the decision you make needs to be what works for you Whatever you decide is going to be the right choice for you and your family—these are unprecedented times and hard decisions, but you will be okay. Nothing is more important than your own health and state of mind, so be confident that your final decision is the right one.

This is a challenging time for so many of us. Stay safe and please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jayme DeCordova
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Inventory Control Quality Assurance Manager at Target Distribution Flow Center

Thanks Amy , I truly feel for elderly and people with serious health issues. We hard working people realize the risks . I see things as , life is full of risks it called living . Can’t sit in a bubble ,hide or just isolated ourselves indefinitely. What kind of life is that of being a only spectator . I’m not sure what you’re trying to say by send your post . I like info good to know. I keep reading all these posts about how they wanna quit their jobs to get PUA $$, people only in country for a week and worked a month and Want PUA ,. “She got cake AND ice cream and I only got cake “ mentalities. So many people working So hard to get that Government free cheese (PUA) Not judging I’m just sayin😎

4y
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Bridgett Irving
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I am looking for a full time job as a Supervisor

I am working online for the past 6 years. I Thank all that go to work any where else .

4y
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Carmen Cruz
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Clerical Assistance

Work at home is a good and your taking care, being sanitized. Seniors with low immune should not be hazardous to working out, People are not receiving or paying attention to good health!..

4y
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Melissa Desir
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It doesn’t matter to me ,I you know how to protect yourself and the people you work with ,why all these talking.

4y
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Walter Fulton
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You have a nerve to say people are scared to work I would like to work but I'm 75 with one leg so you need to know a person before you condemn them

4y
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Albi Hale
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retired

Good Morning, I am NOT afraid to work. I am an 81 year old semi-pro driver. I am willing to work early AM or Early PM positions. I have an automobile and am using face masks. I am needful of being close to my wife since she is OCD and not well. I am able to drive and handle packages up to 40 LBS, on delivery within 25 miles of my address at 01887. Please contact me at 978-447-4613.

4y
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Jose Pena
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Educator

Amy that was a good and informative article about the dangers of wondering under the coronavirus (Covid-19) working environment. There is just so many things that we don't know about the coronavirus.

While some schools have reopened up in the USA and in Europe, it is going to be interesting to how schools and businesses will reduce health risks in the Fall.

4y
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Jose Pena
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Educator

Amy that was a good and informative article about the dangers of wondering under the coronavirus (Covid-19) working environment. There is just so many things that we don't know about the coronavirus.

While some schools have reopened up in the USA and in Europe, it is going to be interesting to how schools and businesses will reduce health risks in the Fall.

4y
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Aida Perez
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I work two jobs both essentials. THEY CLOSED TH MIDNIGHT SHIFT.,on one job collected one week of unemployment and a bonus and was cut of because I had income from my other job.My other job is only 20 hrs.Now I'm struggling to find another midnight position.

4y
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Tanner Cummings
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I ain't scared to work I got me a job working at Taylor Farms...I just wish that I made more money....

4y
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