On March 21, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy mandated a statewide stay-at-home order to limit exposure of COVID-19, which mandated that all residents stay home unless they are reporting to work, seeking medical attention or obtaining essential goods or services.
The order also mandates that all non-essential businesses close with the exception of
healthcare facilities, financial institutions and stores that provide medical supplies, groceries, home maintenance supplies and convenience stores during certain hours.
Several Saint Peter’s University students work at these essential businesses, where they are now on the frontlines to help the public.
Justin Mamaclay, a junior, works at John F. Kennedy Medical Center as a patient care technician. Mamaclay must follow strict rules for transporting patients who are positive for COVID-19 such as wearing gloves, N95 respirators and surgical masks which are quickly depleting.
“It’s kind of surreal,” said Mamaclay. “I have to be ten times more careful than I originally was before with everything I do at work.”
Darius Booth, a senior, has been working 24 to 30 hours a week at Home Depot as a paint associate. His department has become more hectic than usual because his department is the primary source for latex gloves and N-95 masks.
“As soon as we put a box of either of those items out, customers run to grab some,” said Booth. “We had to place limits on how many people can buy at a time.”
Graymi Angeles Marte, a sophomore, became one of the frontline employees at Capital One Bank as her coworkers called out to take care of their children due to school closures.
Workers from other branches without the protective glass at the bank teller booths have been merged to her location to help with the shortage of workers.
“Customers haven’t stopped coming in,” said Marte. “Since the bank decided to close a few branches for prevention we have been getting a lot of customers.”
As employers have started to cut hours and lay off employees, students have stepped up to help support the income of their family.
However, they must take extra precautions at home and at work to ensure the safety of their own and their families.
Mamaclay’s father is a realtor and is unable to showcase homes and meet clients. Mamaclay’s mother works as a nurse at Neuro Intensive Care at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center and has been helping out financially with upcoming bills.
Both of them must take extra precautions at home to ensure the safety of their families health due to their exposure with COVID-19 patients by practicing social distancing at home.
“I will admit it’s saddening that I can’t hug my own mom,” said Mamaclay. “We can’t risk exposing each other to the virus if it’s on us.”
Martes’ mother was recently laid off, but it has not impacted the finances of their family as her brother, sister and herself are still working to support each other.
As Marte takes public transportation to work, she wears gloves to protect herself from contracting the virus. When she arrives home she disinfects frequently touched items such as her phone and counterparts and immediately takes a shower.
Fortunately, Booth’s family are all considered “essential workers” and are currently still working despite the epidemic.
Booth does not fear the virus as much, but is aware of its severity and practices self-isolation when off-duty as well as constant hand washing.
“I know the virus is serious, but people just need to stay clean,” said Booth. “I believe my immune system is up to the test.”
It is unsure when the stay-at-home order will be lifted.