Thousands of employees across the nation were left unemployed and struggling to make ends meet amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Americans still employed were considered the lucky few who were still earning a paycheck. As the number of COVID-19 cases began to rise, stores began reducing their open hours, and some stores had to shut down permanently due to lack of business.
However, other stores have continued to stay open despite the warnings from public health officials. Employees had to make the extreme decision to either go to work and further increase the risk of contracting the virus or quit their jobs altogether.
Former Target employee, Estelle Morrone, reached a conclusion last week for the sake of herself and her family. Morrone had worked at Target in New York City for almost one year when she first heard the news of the novel coronavirus spreading at alarming rates.
As the month progressed, Morrone found that many of her coworkers were taking the safety precautions necessary to decrease the risk of exposure by staying home or calling in sick. Morrone, who originally worked in the Starbucks department of the store, was repositioned as a cashier to compensate for absent employees.
Her concern began to grow when more employees declared their resignations in exchange for staying home.
“I felt very conflicted going into the city to work every day,” Morrone said. “New York has the most cases in the nation, and I felt I was putting myself at risk for the sake of not getting fired.”
This concern was something some of her coworkers had experienced while trying to combat further exposure. Morrone temporarily moved back in with her parents to flee the city and those infected in her area, but she was still going to Manhattan to work.
“Every day that I went back to New York City I lived in the fear of knowing that there was a good chance I would be exposed to the virus,” Morrone said. She eventually resigned from her job at Target.
“I had to quit in order to save myself and those around me,” Morrone said.
Since then, many of her coworkers have quit their jobs to stay safe. On April 2, Target released a press statement discussing its decision to implement new tactics to promote social distancing.
“Beginning on April 4, Target will actively monitor and, when needed, limit the total number of people inside based on the store’s specific square footage,” according to the press release.
These safety measures will prevent the increased risk of exposure and spreading of the virus but will not eliminate the risk completely. Employees from large retail corporations still in service such as Target will be faced with the same dilemma as Morrone. They’ll have to ask themselves, “Do I risk my life and the lives of others to feed my family or will I risk being in poverty?”
By Isabella Pinel