BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Getting infected with the coronavirus, or, missing out on work because you’ve tested positive, even though you feel well. Which troubles you more?
Two troubling scenarios facing many folks in Kern as they anxiously await test results all while trying to cope with the pandemic.
Erick Macias works as a forklift driver at a home improvement store. As he waits for his test results outside of ARCPoint Labs in Northwest Bakersfield, he ponders on what he must do if results come back positive.
“We all have bills to pay,” said Macias. “Everyone is scared to test positive but at the same time I don’t want to miss work.”
If Macias misses work that means a short paycheck and with the lack of COVID-related sick time and no short-term help available, he’s left with little to nothing.
Tonya Coleman also awaits her results, Coleman works in accounts payable, is immunocompromised and her employer has yet to make accommodations so she can work from home.
“I’ve got bills,” said Coleman. “There has to be something set up differently maybe through the unemployment department where you can take your time off work.”
Macias says his employer ended the availability of COVID-related sick time.
Coleman says her employer never offered it.
These workers most likely will feel the concern and see it on their next paycheck if they have to miss and having to miss work feels like they’re forced to take many steps back.
Crystal Rodriguez has worked as a medical assistant for nearly 10 years, if her results come back positive, this would be the third time she contracts COVID-19.
“It really put us in a hardship,” said Rodriguez. “It set us back, and I am still struggling to get out of the first situation where my first employer let us go because of COVID.”
Then there are others who are more concerned with not spreading the virus further. One of those employees is Burton Amusten who works for the Delano Joint Union High School District.
“I’m more concerned about them (students and his kids),” said Amusten. “I have a 12-year old that just got vaccinated.”
Unemployment, mixed with burnout has these workers brainstorming drastic decisions, all while still navigating the impact of a global pandemic.
“I anticipate change in my career,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve had to brainstorm whether I want to stay in the medical field because of all of this.”
Switching careers is a common denominator, many considering a work from home option as they believe this will ensure financial stability while gaining some sense of normalcy. “I’m trying just not to stress out, staying positive,” said Macias.