As the novel coronavirus has ripped its way around the world we’ve all been impacted. More than one million people have been infected worldwide according to John Hopkins University and 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits according to a Department of Labor news release.
But life continues. We buy groceries, we drive between work — if there is work — we continue with as much normalcy as we can. These people, and many more that the Post Register isn’t able to highlight, allow that to happen.
One-hundred-twenty-six Idaho Falls Fire personnel are Emergency Medical Technicians with 53 of those holding a paramedic level certification. The EMS division serves a population of approximately 118,000 residents occupying approximately 1,900 square miles that includes Bonneville County and portions of Bingham and Jefferson counties, according to the fire department’s website.
Since there have been confirmed cases of community spread in eastern Idaho first responders have begun wearing full personal protective equipment while assessing patients until they can determine if a patient could have been exposed to COVID-19, EMS Chief Eric Day said.
Paramedic Mason Cell said, “We want people to stay safe and self quarantine.”
First responders aren’t the only ones stepping up in this crisis. Until recently most people wouldn’t have considered the essential nature of convenience store clerks, but if your family is running out of milk or your car is low on gas and the supermarket is closed because of reduced hours, a trip to a convenience store can be a real life-saver.
Sadee Ballard, a cashier at KJ’s Bucks, said the store’s employees are trying to be extra clean and follow the 6-feet rule for social distancing.
“I’m not concerned but I’m trying to be safe for my two kids at home,” Ballard said.
On March 25, the city of Idaho Falls announced the closure of city facilities, including the Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park, in accordance with the state’s stay-home order. But while the zoo is closed to visitors, zoo staff still must provide for the animals care and feeding, tasks that can’t be done from a home computer.
“It’s been weird with the zoo being so quiet and we miss all of our volunteers but we’re still here and we’re still taking care of our animals,” animal keeper Erika Alderete said.
While the stay-home orders impact on Alderete’s job has her interacting less with the general public, law enforcement officers remain on the job, often in close contact with the public.
Idaho Falls Police patrol officer Preston Littlewood says he’s changed some aspects of his job such as asking if people have been exposed the novel coronavirus and approaching cars from the passenger side while wearing a N95 mask to help prevent exposure.
“I’m married, have two young kids at home, a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old, so I definitely don’t want to bring it (COVID-19) home,” Littlewood said.
Speaking of harm’s way, grocery store employees are handling many of society’s most sought-after commodities such as toilet paper and dried beans.
Kemryn Leavitt, a stocker at Broulim’s in Ammon, said he’s being cautious to protect his health and that of the store’s customers.
“I try to wash my hands all of the time between tasks, but I’m not super worried. It’s been crazy here, bigger than any holiday but it’s slowly backing off.”
And for many, providing an essential service isn’t a job, it’s a calling.
That’s the case for Carol Christensen a volunteer at the Community Food Basket — Idaho Falls, where she has helped people for two decades.
“We all have to help people in this world as long as I can do that and take the precautions I need to and not take anything home we have to think about people other than ourselves,” Christensen said. “It means people won’t go hungry.”