Editor’s Note: Journalism students in Stephanie Marchbank’s yearbook class at Mountain Ridge High School continue writing on issues relating to the coronavirus. This week’s topic is essential workers.

Making the world go round

By Ireland Poorbaugh

What is an essential worker? A doctor, nurse, transit worker? How about brother, sister, father, mother? In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, many essential workers have been putting their lives on the line to keep our economy going.

On May 7, the United States had 25,696 people infected with the coronavirus. Like many other individuals, William Poorbaugh is an essential worker. He drives a train to Baltimore for CSX. When speaking with Poorbaugh, he said, “Before the outbreak, the hotels I would have to stay in were full of life and had furniture in the lobby, and fruit on the front desk for their guests; now everything is packed away leaving the place with an eerie feeling.”

Life for many workers have changed with strict policies put in place to protect the customers and the workers.

Non-essential businesses had shut down due to the outbreak leaving the essential businesses standing. At least 20.5 million workers have lost their jobs due to the outbreak, marking the highest amount in American history.

Among the 20.5 million is college student Nadia Poorbaugh. “One of the hardest things about not having a job during this time is keeping up with my student loans,” she said.

Many Americans are having a hard time with keeping up with their bills after losing their jobs. With the fear COVID-19 has put in the minds of the people today, many are afraid to leave their houses. COVID-19 has affected the way everyone lives, especially the older population. Seventy- one year old Becky Lowery has experienced these effects in her day-to-day life: “The hardest thing about my job is staying safe with pre-existing health conditions.”

Ireland Poorbaugh is a junior at Mountain Ridge High School, where she is involved in the school’s softball team, soccer team, FCA, S.A.D.D., Eco club, Spanish and French clubs. She is also the boys’ varsity basketball manager. After high school, she plans attending Frostburg State and double majoring in art history as well as health science.

On the job

By Olivia Ours

Do you ever think about the essential workers during COVID-19? COVID-19 affected everyone in every place in the world.

Lives completely changed and many people lost their jobs. Being an essential worker meant that one kept working during the pandemic, possibly exposing oneself to the virus more than other people. Essential workers had to take many more precautions; for example, many had a special place in their homes for their clothes and shoes for work. Some people would not even stay at their own home because they did not want to put their other family members at a higher risk.

Many who have lost their jobs filed for unemployment or had to pick up side jobs for some extra cash.

“The mall is closed so I haven’t been working at Chick-fil-A at all. Luckily I have been babysitting for my aunt who is a nurse so I have some extra cash,” said Elizabeth Jenkins.

The Country Club Mall in LaVale closed and that affected several jobs. Many establishments had to shut down because they had no other choice.

“I work at a self-serve place, so there’s really no way we could’ve stayed open without changing our whole system. Lots of places have been able to safely adjust to these times though, which is good to keep people in work and in their ‘normal’ routine,” said Emily Beck.

Many food establishments shut down, switched over to fast food only, or you could order for pick up.

Kaitlyn Wilson who works at Kick Masters said, “The studio itself has been shut down, however Master Rando has made the decision to move our classes online. We as the black belts now have to film videos on our own at home and must call multiple students during the week for a check in call. I’m pretty sure the pay is less and it still takes a good amount of time,” Wilson said.

Olivia Ours is a senior at Mountain Ridge High, where she participated in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, yearbook staff, National Honor Society and Future Educators of America. She worked at The FroYo Factory and currently works at Weis Markets. She also volunteers as a babysitter, teacher at children’s church and teacher for dance lessons at Wills Mountain School of Dance, where she has attended for 14 years.

Working during hard times

By Raegan McKenzie

During the COVID-10 crisis, many people were laid off from their jobs, but only essential workers have to keep working, saving lives and more. Many people believe essential workers deserve a $25,000 raise, such as nurses and grocery store workers.

Essential workers are risking their lives every day to help others who are not working and who need supplies.

Brianna Cline, an essential worker at Chick-fil-A, works every day to bag food for people who order through the drive-thru. “Things have changed since March 18 because we are usually packed inside, but the drive-thrus are packed all the time now,” Cline said.

Reagan Miller, who works at McDonalds, says, “The hardest thing about my job is getting the orders out the window before the line gets too long.” Many places are full to the point their drive-thrus go to the road and create a disaster on the roads.

Samantha Snyder, who works at Little Caesars, says, “The easiest thing about my job is that only a couple people come into the building at a time and I do not feel rushed all the time now.”

Essential workers have tough times doing what they used to do when they work, and they all deserve much thanks for what they are doing: risking their lives and safety throughout this pandemic.

Raegan McKenzie is a junior at Mountain Ridge High School who participates on the soccer and track teams and is a member of the yearbook staff. She won an Offensive Player of the Year award. She often volunteers at her local church.

CUMBERLAND TIMES-NEWS, ctn@times-news.com

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