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Employees with COVID-19 face a difficult choice

Employees with COVID-19 face a difficult choice

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Getting infected with the coronavirus, or missing out on a job because you tested positive, even though you’re feeling well. What bothers you more?

Two troubling scenarios facing many people in Kern as they anxiously await test results as they try to cope with the pandemic.

Erick Macias works as a forklift driver at a hardware store. As he waits for his test results outside ARCPoint Labs in Northwest Bakersfield, he ponders what to do if the results come back positive.

“We all have bills to pay,” Macias said. “Everyone is afraid to test positive, but at the same time I don’t want to miss work.”

When Macias misses work, which means a short salary and with the lack of COVID-related sick time and no short-term help available, he is left with little to nothing.

Tonya Coleman is also awaiting her results, Coleman works in accounts payable, is immunocompromised and her employer has yet to make arrangements so she can work from home.

“I’ve got bills,” Coleman said. “Something else needs to be arranged, perhaps through the unemployment department where you can take your time off.”

Macias says his employer has ended the availability of COVID-related sick time.

Coleman says her employer never offered it.

These employees will most likely feel the concern and see it on their next paycheck if they have to miss out and missing work feels like they are forced to take many steps back.

Crystal Rodriguez has worked as a medical assistant for almost 10 years, if her results are positive this would be the third time she has contracted COVID-19.

“It really got us in trouble,” said Rodriguez. “It set us back and I’m still struggling to get out of the first situation where my first employer let us go because of COVID.”

Then there are others who are more concerned about not spreading the virus further. One of those employees is Burton Amusten, who works for the Delano Joint Union High School District.

“I’m more concerned about them (students and his kids),” Amusten said. “I have a 12-year-old who has just been vaccinated.”

Unemployment, mixed with burnout, leaves these workers brainstorming drastic decisions while still managing the impact of a global pandemic.

“I expect change in my career,” said Rodriguez. “I have had to brainstorm through all of this whether I want to stay in the medical world.”

Changing jobs is a common denominator, many are considering a work-from-home option as they believe it will ensure financial stability while giving them some sense of normalcy. “I’m just trying not to stress and stay positive,” Macias said.