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How Coronavirus Impacted ONE Long Island Cashier

A gallon of hand sanitizer made by New York State available for associates to use at the grocery store.

By Elyssa DiCostanzo

During the current COVID-19 crisis, frontline workers extend past doctors, nurses, and EMTs. Grocery workers have also become essential, and their health and safety are being jeopardized every day as they pack out and ring up peoples’ groceries.

One 61-year-old Nassau Country grocery store worker, who asked to remain nameless, tested positive for the virus. Though she’s unsure if she contracted the virus in the store where she has worked for over 15 years or while shopping on her own, she shared the trauma of her experience.

“When it started getting really bad in Italy, and there was talk about it coming here, I started using hand sanitizer anytime someone paid with cash. I had no idea how bad it would get,” she said.

As things started progressing, she started doing even more to protect herself. “I started wearing gloves before anyone else really was on the frontend. I was getting really anxious. Then I started bringing my own wipes and Lysol, and I was sanitizing every second I could.”

In the meantime, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo initiated a “Stay Home” order on March 20th, which was a shut down of all non-essential businesses. People were advised to stay home and only go out for necessities. And if they were planning to leave the houses, they must wear face coverings as per local executive order.

Then, grocery stores started changing too. All stores opened later and offered senior hours while also closing earlier. Most grocery stores have plexiglass dividers between customers and cashiers to help limit exposure, and all employees are required to wear a mask at all times.