SAN FRANCISCO—On Thursday, May 21, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis held a hearing for essential workers on the impact the pandemic has had on them. This Select Subcommittee was established on April 23 of this year by the House of Representatives, which is part of the legislative branch of the United States Government.

The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis is in charge of examining the use of taxpayer funds relating to the crisis, the implementations of any virus-related federal laws, as well as overall preparedness and response to the crisis. The Subcommittee is chaired by Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina.

This hearing was announced on Tuesday, May 19 and was scheduled for Thursday that same week at 9:00 AM Pacific Standard Time. Six different essential workers were slated to speak at the hearing in order to state their concerns and needs. Marcos Aranda was one of these workers.

Marcos Aranda is a San Francisco resident and a custodian at the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. “COVID-19 has made it harder for janitors to do our jobs safely,” he said during the hearing, “I know firsthand that it’s easy for janitors to come into contact with the virus. But it’s harder to deal with the consequences.” Aranda stated that one of his coworkers had had to come into work despite being sick.

“I did what I could at the moment and got [the coworker] help.” Aranda said that the experience took an “emotional toll” on him, and that although he stayed home for two days after the incident, he had to go back to work.

“Now when I go to work, I’m not only worried about my health, but also the health of my family.” Aranda and his wife live with their six children, his mother, his sister, and his sister’s two children. He said that nobody in his family has gotten sick, but that “COVID-19 is already hurting working families.”

Aranda’s wife has been laid off due to the pandemic, their children no longer have access to free school lunches, and they are all doing laundry frequently to avoid infection. “We’re cutting corners where we can,” said Aranda. “My story isn’t unique…I have no idea if I’ll have a job in a week or two.”

To close out his statement, Aranda stated that “now more than ever, we need Congress to take action to protect all workers by requiring higher pay during the crisis.” He asked that the government ensure that all essential workers have access to personal protective equipment, or PPE, such as masks and gloves.

The hearing can be accessed here. For more information on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, visit their website.