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Employees fear Ohio's May 1 reopening will increase their exposure to virus

Virus Outbreak Texas
Posted at 11:43 PM, Apr 23, 2020

CLEVELAND — Brian Yarbrough is extremely cautious at work—his routine is simple.

“While you’re at work [and] when you take a lunch break wash your hands, hand sanitize,” he said.

That routine continues until he clocks out as a sanitation workers at Fifth Third Bank.

“It's so important for me so I can keep myself healthy at all times,” he said.

But as the state inches towards reopening while still threatened by COVID-19, Yarbrough fears his exposure to the virus will worsen as foot traffic increases inside his building.

“I feel like we should reopen on July 1,” he said. “The longer you wait the safer it’s going to be.”

His reps with the Service Employees International Union Local 1, share that fear. They said they’re unsure of how exactly the state’s reopening plan will protect their 1,700 local members on the job.

“If we don’t have a plan in place now and were looking at opening back up on May 1, I can’t be confident in that because I don’t know what that is,” said Yanela Sims, SEIU Local 1 Ohio Director.

That fear, according to University Hospitals Psychologist Dr. Carolyn Levers-Landis, is expected.

“We are making this all up as we go. This is all new so we all have to communicate, keep a level head and respect each other and try to come up ways that we can all feel safe,” Dr. Levers-Landis said. “Not everyone is going to feel comfortable doing that. Not everyone thinks it’s okay to go to somebody’s places.”

Dr. Levers-Landis said some may struggle overcoming that fear in public.

“There might be other people who are anxious who are going to perseverate who are going to worry about germs and they’re going to really struggle,” she said. “Extroverts are going to struggle to because extroverts are not going to get what they want to a certain extent that they want it.”

But she said understanding, support and clear communication from loved ones, business owners and state officials will help boost confidence and help keep others like Yarbrough safe.