As the majority of New Yorkers have been ordered to stay home for the last several weeks, workers deemed essential have been working around the clock to keep the city running. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced quick action in retrofitting and building new hospitals under unprecedented circumstances in order to meet the overwhelming demand for beds and access to care. To keep up with the rapid spread of the disease, construction workers have reported to work at public and private hospitals across the city to build and expand capacity.
Here is a typical day at work for one of these workers, Freddy, through submitted personal photos.
Freddy Bastone: Bronx resident and essential construction worker.
Workers that people often forget about, like grocery store employees or construction workers, have a big role in making sure we all stay safe and healthy, and that the sick can be properly cared for. I’ve been working at North Bronx Hospital in demolition for the necessary expansion. I’ve also been restoring some public housing, and worked for a time at Bellevue Hospital building a temporary morgue. It’s challenging work because it’s hard to see the crisis unfolding before me, but I know someone has to step up to the plate and expand the capacity of our hospitals in this truly horrific time.
I know I have less concerns than some other construction workers right now. The jobsite across the street from somewhere I was working recently is nonunion. At most, the workers had bandanas over their faces. If construction workers are risking their health, they should be protected and receive solid wages with the safety protocols necessary. We cannot be put at risk just because nobody’s paying attention. So many construction workers are going to work right now and facing risks because they really truly need their paychecks.