According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) provisional death counts, as of May 24, 2020, there have been over 73,000 deaths due solely to COVID-19 in the United States since the first recorded death in the country, on February 8, 2020. Despite societies inability to combat the disease, many facets of the world we live are too important to be inaccessible. The people who are vital to the function of these essential businesses continuously risk the well being of them and their loved ones to help the rest of us. Businesses are deemed essential if they provide services, or items, that humans cannot live without, like food or healthcare. For some employees, this stems from wanting to enhance people's quality of life. For others, it's to ensure the wellbeing of their dreams. Regardless, these people continue to work regularly despite the ever-present societal changes around them.
Becky Ubelhor is a Nurse in the Pediatric and Neurology departments at The Med Center of Bowling Green. Due to the current pandemic, Ubelhor volunteered to work in the COVID unit a few weeks ago. “At first I thought I was being thrown to the wolves, and then the team work that they showed me really helped me calm my fears,” said Ubelhor. Although she and the rest of her team are doing everything they can to fight the virus, there's no telling how long the war will last. “We don't know whats in the future and thats why we have to work on the present right now and prepare for the future. Im not sure if it's going to blow over in 2020, because the flu has been around for centuries. It's a virus, a virus can mutate,” said Ubelhor.
Matt Brown is a Recreational Administration major at Western Kentucky University who has been working at a local Kroger while he attends school.
“When I came back to work after spring break, it was hectic...When the store closed at 10 PM, there were still cars out here like it was a Sunday afternoon on the Super Bowl,” said Brown.
Jessica Smith is a Licensed Veterinary Technician and Assistant Office Manager at Greystone Pet Hospital in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Ever since she was a child, Smith knew she wanted to work with animals. Even though some days are long and tough, she loves helping animals and forming relationships with their owners. Smith says new business guidelines have greatly effected the way her, and the rest of her staff, operate. “We are doing curbside only, so no one is allowed into the clinic. Clients know their pet the best, so not having them in the clinic to help explain things has slowed things down just a little," said Smith. New hours of operation have also greatly impacted veterinarians in Bowling Green, but the offices in town formed a plan to make sure all animals are able to get the care they need, whenever they need it. “There are five clinics in Bowling Green that take turns seeing emergencies after business hours. We also rotate weekends, so whoever is on call for the weekend is on call Saturday and Sunday. The clinic on call is responsible for seeing emergencies from the other 4 clinics as well as their own,” said Smith.
Manoj Kumar Patel moved to Bowling Green from his home in Zimbabwe 5 years ago. In his native country Patel was a professional contractor, but he gave up his profession and moved to America to help ensure a better future for his daughters. Last year, Patel built his own liquor store, WK Liquor’s from the ground up. Since many students from Western Kentucky University have returned home for the semester, much of Patel’s clientele is gone, but he chooses to remain optimistic and positive. “If you take Zimbabwe for an example, there's a total lockdown. In a sense, things are way better than elsewhere. I mean, Europe's went through a total shutdown too. Things could always be a lot worse,” said Patel.
Jason Musser began repairing cars 20 years ago when he couldn’t afford to continuously pay for maintenance on his first car. At the time, he had no intention of making it his career, but when he discovered his distain for teaching after earning a Masters Degree in Mathematics from Western Kentucky University, he fell back on automobile maintenance to make ends meet. After roughly three years of working in peoples driveways, Musser decided to open his own business, Musser Motorsports. Musser feels fortunate to be able to continue working while many other businesses are forced to close their doors.
“If you read on business, sometimes businesses are compared to a baby. This is my baby, you know, and if I don't care for it in the right way, it's gonna fucking die,” said Musser.
Bowling Green's response to government issued mandates based around slowing the spread of COVID-19 are just a few examples of what the human race is dealing with as a whole. In these times of uncertainty, adaptation has proven to be essential in dealing with a foe that has never been seen before.