By Rich Miller
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Every night after work, 39 year old Tiffany Lea takes off her entire uniform before she enters the house and races to the shower. Her husband disinfects her uniform with Lysol while wearing latex gloves and a face mask.
Lea is a long time employee of ACME Markets in Seaville, NJ. She works in the store’s front end, dealing directly with customers at the customer service center and behind the checkout lanes. Lea’s youngest son Michael is severely asthmatic, putting him at a higher risk if he were to test positive for COVID-19.
Retail and grocery stores have done their part to help keep employees and shoppers safe. This includes increasing disinfecting practices and installing plexiglass borders around registers and counters to limit exposure.
Grocery stores and supermarkets have been deemed essential to our communities and are among a select group of businesses that are not majorly impacted by any new state or federal restrictions.
So Lea continues to go to work, helping the community by allowing residents to gather the supplies needed to quarantine. She is one of the many service workers around the country who are putting themselves at risk.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, more than 2.7 million Americans are employed by a grocery store or supermarket. Throughout this global pandemic, these workers continue to manage the checkout lanes, take orders at the deli counter and those work tirelessly to keep the shelves stocked.
As people are adjusting to their “new normal,” many seem to be forgetting about those who must carry on normally — doctors, nurses, public health workers, pharmacists, law enforcement, gas station attendants, transportation and delivery drivers.
While some can comfortably work from home, many employees must show up to work and put themselves at risk on the front lines of this pandemic. As an ACME employee, I have seen first hand that workers are being treated callously by customers. This needs to stop.
These workers are not able to provide for themselves and their families by working from home. We must appreciate that they are here to help in a time of need.
This is why practicing social distancing and only leaving your home for essential travel is not just a suggestion — it’s a public health necessity. By ignoring these guidelines, you are putting a large group of people, who are just as equally trying to survive in these uncertain times, at even more of a risk.
If you need to travel during this time, please be aware, considerate and practice good hygiene for the good of our country and its respective communities. Vacations, parties and other recreational activities can wait. Our health and safety cannot.