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Sound off: who among us is "essential", and who isn't?

Original Post
Andrew Krajnik · · Plainfield, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 1,703

It seems that all of the current lockdowns and shelter-in-place restrictions in the US have exceptions for "essential" businesses. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants (for delivery and carry-out) seem to be universally considered essential, and of course retail stores for supplies. I'm not aware of any states that are shutting down liquor stores (thankfully), and it would appear that dispensaries are in the clear as well. (I assume due to the medicinal aspect?)

From what I've been hearing among my circle of acquaintances, there are a lot more businesses deemed essential than I'd have expected. As far as I know, the only places completely shut down are gyms, hair and nail salons, museums, theaters and "fun zone" type places (amusement parks, jumps zones, trampoline places, etc.). My sister-in-law works at a craft store, and she was surprised to learn that they were deemed essential, and are still open.

What industry do you work in, and has your work been deemed essential? Do you agree with that assessment?

I'll start: My company manufactures components for mobile equipment (construction, mining, agricultural, municipal, etc.). Since some of our OEM customers supply to the government, we're considered essential, and are still legally allowed to produce parts. As such, our factories are still running, though anyone who has the ability to work from home is instructed to do so, to reduce the number of face-to-face interactions among employees.

Bill Czajkowski · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 30

In order to prevent the economy from collapsing, and taxes with it, likely there are a lot more essential people than you would think.

Andrew Krajnik · · Plainfield, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 1,703
Bill Czajkowski wrote: In order to prevent the economy from collapsing, and taxes with it, likely there are a lot more essential people than you would think.

I don't disagree, I'm just curious what jobs have been considered essential, and which have been shut down.

William P · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

My company makes industrial machinery used to make, fill, and seal cans. Cans for water, food, beer; pretty much any aluminum or steel can line will have ours or a competitor's machinery.

So we're technically essential, as we supply machinery to the food and beverage industry. Not only machinery, but field service to all the machines currently out there.

Our assembly floor guys are the only ones who actually need to be on site for their work to be done, and they're still taking measures to reduce the possibility of infection and spread, such as hiring an industrial cleaning/sanitization company to come in every single night and spray the whole place down, and more evenly balancing our two shifts, on top of the general advice to keep distance, clean their hands frequently, etc.

As a design engineer, I can mostly work from home. We still have things come up all the time that - while they could be dealt with from home - are the reason we still keep a small number of engineers (at least one per product line) in the office. Most HR, sales, accounting, etc. staff have been sent to work from home, but a lot of the executive office still comes in, though they usually use their special entrance, go straight to their offices, and basically stay put. We've also stopped all meetings (we use Webex for online meetings).

So far, we're planning on continuing these measures for the next four weeks, but the CEO is sending out almost daily emails with updates.

michael sershen · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 0

I work in a company that make thin film deposition equipment for the semiconductor industry. We have been deemed essential, but we are still WFH if we can.

Pretty much the entire industrial base that I interact with has been deemed essential.
I think if you can connect your self in any way to the defense industry you can get a pass.
Most CEOs are going to work really hard to find a way to stay open

Seem like it's the recreational activities that are being curtailed.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 1,647

I was wondering the same thing.

My husband and I are both working from home. He is managing a team of data scientists. Their work remotely is essentially work-as-usual. Their company was well=equipped to get everyone VPN access, and they have been working remotely for 3 weeks now. They expect about 10% loss of productivity/slowdown, from this, and seem to be doing just fine.

I have a faculty research position at a university. Research labs are all shut down/remote work now. We had a week to mothball/stop anything that could be mothballed, and now are allowed to have no more than 2 people in the lab at the same time, so those people are basically in charge of walk-through's, to make sure there are no freezer/incubator failures, and to manage animal work and cell lines on experiments that had been already started. No new experiments starting. I have enough analysis work I can do at home to last me a few weeks.

We are both lucky,  our salaries are not affected. When I go in, I accrue time-off equivalent to the time I spend at work. It is time off that can't be transferred/doesn't get paid for, in case I leave the job, but it is time off I can take, on top of usual time off, at a later time.

My son is "essential worker", but it is complete bullshit. he is a 3rd year engineering student, doing semester-long co-op/internship. "Essential intern" is a contradiction of terms. But he is working for a company that builds landing gears and other stuff that has some defense applications, so I can see why, theoretically, this type of industry would be essential. Though again, the reason a lot of their engineers are going to work in person is because the company is not able to give VPN access to all who need it.

gtluke · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2012 · Points: 1

I work in municipal infrastructure, mostly water and wastewater, mostly NYC. Thankfully I'm not working in the field anymore alike most of my coworkers. I do project estimates.

John Reeve · · Durango, formely from TX · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 5

I'm a webdev/devops who works remote.  

We're mostly unessential (depending on which of 5 states we are in) but are fortunately able to keep supporting our customers (who include a large university and a very large disaster relief NGO) from our various locked-down locations.

Eric Seiler · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 171
Bill Czajkowski wrote: In order to prevent the economy from collapsing, and taxes with it, likely there are a lot more essential people than you would think.

Under the day-to-day norms of the market, this is true. It is possible for a country with the political willpower to defy those norms though:…

Forrest Carver · · Edgecomb, ME · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 65

My state went essential-only yesterday, and as a bicycle shop we meet the criteria. It's not really a stretch, considering it's a rural area and we have several customers that only use bicycle transportation. If you ask any of the four parents that just bought a bike for their newly-homebound hyperactive second grader, they'll probably say we're essential too

Mike-Mayhem · · Bozeman. MT · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 65

Apparently Civil Engineers are considered essential...Still showing up to the office here in Missoula, MT

I would argue that I am probably not essential, but whatever. Seems to me that any position which is not a service industry is considered essential...

curt86iroc · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 125
Rico Kazee wrote: Do self-righteous Boulderites with exemplary moral fortitude count as “essential”?

only in their own eyes...

Dallin Carey · · Missoula · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 192
Mike-Mayhem wrote: Still showing up to the office here in Missoula, MT

Civil Engineering as well. Most of out clients are federal agencies so if they keep working we do too. Over half the office is voluntarily working from home though. 

What firm do you work at Mike?
Fehim Hasecic · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 190

I’m a self proclaimed rock climber which makes me essential for my well being. So if you see my green plate in your local town rest assured I’m allowed to be there.
In my real life  I work in apartment maintenance and we’re deemed essential. I’m the last line of defense between resident and their clogged toilet.

Etha Williams · · Somerville, MA · Joined May 2018 · Points: 324

Humanities PhD student/TA, teaching remotely. It’s not the same as face-to-face instruction, but I agree it was the right call, though I’m nervous about what it’ll mean for the availability and security of my teaching positions in the future.

 We have synchronous and asynchronous participation options for the students to accommodate students in differing time zones or with differing degrees/types of stress and hardship. I think for many who are choosing to participate synchronously, the class helps them get a little distance, however briefly, from how overwhelming things are getting. It does for me, too.

curt86iroc · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 125

engineer also. my company has several federal contracts, so we're also essential...

Andrew Krajnik · · Plainfield, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 1,703

I summarized my situation in the OP, but I neglected to mention my wife. She's a forensic DNA analyst for the State Police crime lab.The Crime Lab has been deemed essential for public safety, which seems a bit odd, since they keep the public safe by providing evidence that helps convict criminals... and the courts are currently shut down.

Regardless, they are taking measures to reduce the potential spread by limiting the number of people in office at one time. Currently, only 2 scientists are allowed in each section (Biology/DNA, Firearms/Toolmarks, Latent Prints, Drug Chemistry, etc.). So my wife has been at home for the past 2 weeks (only checking email until they set up her remote access), and will be in office next week.

Meredith E. · · Bainbridge Island, WA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

I'm a researcher contracting in a NOAA lab, we're all now on mandatory telework (with plenty to do on that front), but my husband owns a brewery, and they fall under the "to go restaurant/food service/food production" essential locally.  That said, they are take out and crowler fill only (no reusable containers for the time being), with limited hours,  6 ft marks on the floor, and they let all their staff volunteer for shifts if they want them, no one who doesn't feel comfortable coming in has to, and everyone's jobs will be there for them whenever this ends.

Danny Poceta · · Calgary · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 61

Orchestral musician. Going to work depends on groups of 2000+ people. Quickly deemed non-essential (no shit). I am worried that performing arts will be deemed non-essential for quite a while after this though, and be unable to recover.

Kevin Cottle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

I am a county paramedic so we are obviously considered essential. 

Nick Votto · · CO, CT, IT · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 320

As a wine importer and distributor, my business has been deemed "essential."  Letters from the liquor commissions in CT, NY, MA all stated they would be worried about rioting if they shut down liquor stores.  Business is booming as it usually does in these times. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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