Life as a Student-Decontamination Worker
This respondent is a high school senior, living in the Chicagoland suburbs. "Pretty much everything" has been cancelled for students, including final exams, although recognises he'd "rather be safe than party". However, such uncertain times have naturally left him "worried about college applications".
As of May, the student had been working on decontamination with his father's company for approximately two months. The employees divide sites into three groups, noting that the most commonly handled sites tend to be nursing homes.
Category 1: No chance of contamination, which is "just a preventative measure so that people can rest easy, knowing that the place is entirely cleaned out."
Category 2: When there is somebody who is suspected to have made contact with a positive person, or is currently being tested. He clarifies,“That means that we are cleaning out the building as thoroughly as we can, wiping walls, doors, and pretty much every surface up to six feet.”
Category 3: When there has been a confirmed case, or multiple. “This is usually taken care of on a room-by-room basis in nursing homes and the like, because every surface in the entire area has to be cleaned. A simple nursing home room can take up to 4 hours, and needs to be sealed off from other common areas.”
In order to guarantee their own safety, employees "are using every available method of preventing infection, including “full body suits, full face masks, and double gloves on every job.” However, this has led to a rapid depletion of stock. The employee explains, We've put in an order to get supplies from retailers like 3m and other manufacturers, but, after the last one, we've been told that it's the last shipment we're getting until December. And by company policy, if we cannot effectively protect ourselves, we close our doors until we can.”
The respondent and his colleagues are being granted "a bonus for each worker, dependent on the volume of the job they're on that day". For example, when working on a commerical job such as a hotel, each employee will receive a percentage of the total job cost. He explains that, normally, the rate is "15 [dollars] an hour", but, he "took home a paycheck of 900 dollars the week they rolled out the bonuses", despite having only worked around 20 hours over the past seven days.
This respondent believes America is "done for" in terms of the government's response, although is of the view that the media "have usually been providing the public with reliable information". This particular student has not interacted with anyone outside of his family since the beginning of lockdown; he has also had holidays, concerts, school trips, and other meet-ups cancelled as a result of the pandemic.