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Essential Businesses


News of social distancing and the closing of non-essential businesses spread through the United States quickly and chaotically. Before President Trump even announced the quarantine restrictions, many universities were already taking steps to move college classes online. In the long list of universities to make this change, Long Island University was one of them. With their students now spread out across the world, each one is having a different experience when it comes to the restrictions put in place.

Businesses involving healthcare workers, postal drivers and grocery workers are considered essential, but they are not the only ones. For businesses that are open, there are upsides like making money during this financial distress, but a disadvantage is the possibility of coming into contact with someone that has the virus. 

Lauren Kozecki, 37, is a nurse at Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Kozecki has been a nurse for the last 15 years, working in postpartum and delivery. Being an essential worker during this pandemic can sometimes mean longer and more strenuous hours for workers in the hospital. “In addition to my scrubs, I now have to cover every inch of my body, including a full frontal face mask and an isolation gown,” said Kozecki. “I’m not even allowed to let parents see their newborn babies if  they have the slightest of coughs.” A nurse’s normal 12 hour shift could be extended up to double if the parents are asked to be checked out. 

Being a nurse during this epidemic comes with a lot of responsibility, but also many dangers. Kozecki’s family is very cautious of her job and what she could encounter, so while the restrictions are still in effect, she must live separately from her parents and three young children. 

Depending on the state that you live in, there are businesses that may not be thought of as “essential,”  but are still up and running. In states like Maryland, New York and Michigan, liquor stores and restaurants are considered an essential business, making it possible for residents to have liquor and hot food every day of the quarantine. But for the people in each of these states, there is still confusion to why certain businesses are actually considered “essential.”

“I’m really confused on what makes a business ‘essential,” said Chloe Schuler, 19, who is a server at a local restaurant in Flint Michigan. “I understand people working in hospitals and in grocery stores, but people working in the restaurant industry shouldn’t be.”

Schuler has been working carry-out in her restaurant since the restrictions were announced, but she feels that handling other people’s food is not the safest way of avoiding the virus. Although we all want to believe that restaurants are always clean and up to code, you never know what health hazards could really be going on in the kitchen and bar. With all the restrictions put in place, many states still consider alcohol and liquor stores an essential business. “We’re also allowed to sell carry-out containers of alcohol, which is definitely an accident waiting to happen,” Schuler adds.

Alcohol sales are skyrocketing across the country, more specifically in the states that have kept liquor stores and restaurants open. "Across the U.S., governors are terming alcohol sales an essential business and loosening restrictions to permit home delivery and carryout cocktails, throwing an economic lifeline to one group of small businesses.," wrote David H. Jernigan recently in an article for The Conversation. Jernigan is a professor of health law, policy and management at Boston University.

In the time since restrictions were put in place, Jernigan found that a high 55.3% of Americans over the age of 18 have been filling their time in quarantine with alcohol. For those who have an alcohol disorder and are actually dependent, the numbers shrink to only 5.8%. With such low numbers of people actually dependent on alcohol, the debate on why liquor stores are remaining essential is still on the table. 

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