Risking It All, For The Safety Of All

A look into an essential worker’s life in the midst of a pandemic


Kay Copeland

While most of the world is safe at home, essential workers continue to go to work and serve the public.

In the United States today, it’s estimated that the unemployment rate due to COVID-19 has now reached 13%, which is the highest it’s been since the Great Depression. But while many people are out of work at the moment, essential businesses are still open to the public. 

What defines an essential business varies by the state. To see a list of generic essential businesses, click here

Some people would be surprised to see that pet stores are considered essential during this time. My grandmother, Lynn Wyatt, is the owner of Lynn’s Pets in Wentzville. She has been in business for 42 years, and this pandemic is increasingly affecting how she manages her pet store.

“Coronavirus has greatly impacted my shop. I’m hoping I can get a small business loan to help me through it,” Wyatt said. “I’m just trying to keep myself, my workers and my customers safe and healthy.”

Submitted by Lynn Wyatt
Lynn Wyatt and one of her customers stand behind the counter at her pet store, prior to the new store policies.

Wyatt has been in business during trying times in the past. She expresses how she has never seen something this intense before that impacts her business to this degree. Yet, despite the tough circumstances, she is securing the safety of herself and her employees.

“We’ve implemented a couple policies. I closed the shop to the public and we’re just taking online and phone orders right now. We’re doing curbside pickup, so we bring the items out to their car. We also don’t take cash right now, we only accept cards so I can keep my workers safe,” Wyatt said. “I can’t take a chance on anything. I need to be healthy to take care of my granddaughters and to stay in business.”

Essential workers are at a higher risk of contracting coronavirus than those who are working from home. Even though she has to continue to put herself at risk each day, Wyatt is taking precautions for the safety of everyone. Although, some of her customers aren’t too happy with the current policies. 

“There are some people who don’t understand why I’m taking this so seriously,” Wyatt said. “I’ve actually lost a couple of customers because I wouldn’t allow them inside of my shop.”

That’s not the only loss of business Wyatt has encountered. Since implementing the new rules, Wyatt has not served the same amount of customers that she did before the virus. 

“The money’s not coming in like it should to pay the bills and to pay my workers, but I’m hoping it picks up,” Wyatt said. “I’ve been making some personal sacrifices to make sure that their income isn’t affected.”

These are extremely tough times for everybody, but without essential businesses, we would be far worse off than we are currently. Essential workers who put their health at risk to serve the public deserve respect and deserve to be heard. Take the time to thank an essential worker today.