Students keep working during COVID-19 crisis

Willowbrook

Luke Gazarek

Willowbrook assisted living and nursing home to stay open with restrictions during COVID-19 pandemic.

Luke Gazarek, Staff writer

Many businesses were asked to shut down to limit the spread of COVID-19, but the ‘essential’ businesses are allowed to stay open. Many students work at Willow Brook, grocery stores, and restaurants with drive-thrus, and these students must continue to work during the pandemic.

For the students who work at Willow Brook, the case is considered even more serious as they are providing help to the elderly, who are deemed to be at a higher risk of fatality to COVID-19. The business has taken notice and put stricter guidelines in place for those working and for the residents themselves.

We have an hour in the morning now where it’s just elderly people shopping”

— Sebastian Meehan

“We have to go to each person’s room and take their order and then we have to hand deliver every single meal to every single person because they’re trying to prevent them from all being in the same place,” Willow Brook server Sam Bonofiglio said.

Not only is the food serving different, but the sanitation and cleanliness has been upgraded as well.

“Some residents are on quarantine if they’re new and we don’t know where they’ve been, we put them on a 14-day quarantine just to make sure we don’t have contact with them … and we don’t know who they’ve been in contact with,” Willow Brook server Sydney Wolf said. “But we also wear gloves while we’re bussing and serving and we wash our hands a lot. Every time we walk through a door, we wash our hands.”

Willow Brook is also requiring the servers and other workers to have their temperature taken and answer questions before they enter the building.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered that there be no visitors to nursing homes, adding to the list of new protocols that Willow Brook has set in.

Grocery stores such as Kroger have also taken steps to try to keep people safe, especially those who are at risk.

“We have an hour in the morning now where it’s just elderly people shopping,” Kroger employee Sebastian Meehan said. “[And we’re] just keeping six feet away from people and [doing] a lot more online orders so people aren’t actually having to go in.”

Not only are they putting in more restrictions to sanitation, but they are also beginning to limit the number of specific items that one person can purchase as they are running low on toilet paper, paper towels, meat and canned foods that typically have a long expiration date.

Restaurants such as Raising Cane’s have shut down their dining rooms, as ordered by Governor DeWine, but they are still running the drive-thru. With the drive-thru being open, they are being careful to still be sanitary, protecting themselves and the customers.

“We now have to wash our hands every 10 minutes and we’re wearing gloves,” Cane’s employee Jacob Molina said. “We pretty much clean everything all day which we did before, Cane’s is huge into being sanitary as it is.”

With the new “Stay at Home” order that was given by Governor DeWine, people are only allowed to travel if they are headed to work, get food, or do anything else that he deemed essential in his order. 

With this order, the Delaware County Sheriff’s office released a tweet that asked employers to provide employees “with an ‘essential worker’ letter indicating they are required to work.” To the employees they wrote: “When traveling to and from work, please have in your possession your ‘essential worker’ letter (if provided to you by your employer), driver’s license/government issued photo ID, and work ID. This will expedite any potential interaction we may have with you.”

While working during this crazy time, some companies that are considered ‘essential’ have offered bonuses to their employees. With many places being asked to close, however, many people are losing jobs for the time being and Bonofiglio says that he is just grateful to still be able to work, even without receiving a bonus.

With all of this going on, the workers have tried to find ways to stay busy during the time that they aren’t working. They have turned to working out, babysitting, volunteering, doing homework and making fun videos to share.

“I volunteered at People In Need because they’re pretty short since most of their volunteers are older people and they don’t want to risk being out there,” Bonofiglio said. “And I’ve been playing piano. I’ve stayed pretty busy honestly.”

Bonofiglio also started making videos in his free time where he and his brother compete in competitions to complete the March Madness bracket. They both pick a team for each game based on their skill level at the game they are playing and the corresponding seed and then they see which team will win.