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New York Service Worker Faces Pandemic Without Income


Thousands of New Yorkers are having to face this crisis without an income. We reached out to one of them.

YENNY HERNANDEZ: My name is Yenny Hernandez. I work in midtown Manhattan in commercial division cleaner.

GJELTEN: Hernandez has been laid off from her job because the pandemic has shut down so many workplaces. And she says she's not alone.

HERNANDEZ: At this moment, the pandemic affecting the 85, 90% of the employees in my company. Everybody's out in the layoff, is not working at this moment. And everybody's worried about the - how - when is the unemployment send my money to pay my bills, for my food? Everybody's worried.

GJELTEN: Hernandez says it's been terrible not having an income during the crisis. But even if she found new work, she says she wouldn't feel safe even just commuting to work on the packed subways, where social distancing is impossible.

HERNANDEZ: In New York, I need take two buses and one train for go to my job. And the people no have social distance in the train. It's a lot of homeless in the train. It's a lot of people in the train. I don't feel comfortable for go to my job now.

GJELTEN: Instead, she's trying to help people in her South Bronx community by volunteering to distribute food to needy families and helping neighbors apply for unemployment. And she worries about the future.

HERNANDEZ: I tell you, I try to help my community a lot I can. I try to tell something sweet. I try to have the key to bring people because believe me, I know the solution. So that's terrible.

GJELTEN: That's Yenny Hernandez, a recently unemployed cleaning worker living in the South Bronx, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF SKINSHAPE'S "LIFE AS ONE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.