The Essentials | KALW

The Essentials

While most of us are dealing with homeschooling and boredom — zoning out in Zoom meetings and binge-watching Netflix — there are millions of people in California out there on the frontlines: in hospitals and grocery stores, delivering food and packages. We sing for them each night, and our kids post hearts in their windows as a sign of gratitude.

These workers are part of a larger group whose jobs have been deemed "essential" by the state. We are sharing the overlooked stories of people who are putting themselves and their families in harm's way every time they leave their homes in this new series, "The Essentials."

Doug Zimmerman

Oakland Public Library is open for curbside pickup, but its doors remain shut. So what happens to families and kids who depend on libraries for more than books? In this installment of The Essentials, meet a children’s librarian who is working to preserve what makes the library so special.

Amanda Levin

San Francisco students have been back to school for nearly a month now, and a lot has changed for students — and for teachers. Amanda Levin is currently a teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District at Leadership High School, and she’s been teaching for nearly three decades. As part of our ongoing series The Essentials, we’re bringing you overlooked stories of essential workers: people who are still being called to work while most of us are sheltered in place.

Jenny G. Shao / KALW

The pandemic has forced public transportation to adjust. Now, riders are asking, is it safe to use public transportation during a public health crisis? In this installment of The Essentials, meet Phaethon Brown. He oversees day-day operations at BART in the East Bay. 

Babette Thomas / KALW

Many pets have been seeing a whole lot more of their people during the past few months. Our animal friends probably love the extra company and attention, but what happens when pets develop medical conditions of their own during shelter in place? In this installment of The Essentials, we talk to a veterinarian for some answers.

Jake Bunch

In California, a lot of people whose jobs have been deemed essential during the shelter-in-place work in food, including commercial fishers. The industry is tough even in the best of times. Now, restaurant closures and social distancing have made fishing for a living more complex — and child care plays a role too. In this installment of The Essentials, we meet a commercial fisher and father.

Jimmy Hsu

In our ongoing series, The Essentials, we meet people who are working out in the real world while many of us are sheltered at home. In this installment, we hear how the pandemic has changed the daily routine for Jimmy Hsu, who owns a laundromat in Richmond.

John Taylor

 

John Taylor, also known as One Shot Johnny, is a mobile butcher. He’s always considered himself essential. But as some of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks have forced some large slaughterhouses to temporarily close, John has never been busier. In this installment of "The Essentials," John gives KALW's Victor Tence an intro to mobile butchery. 
 

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Madolan Greene / Flickr Creative Commons / cropped

Reuben Houston is the owner and director of one of Colma Cremation and Funeral Services. The Bay Area has seen a relatively low COVID death rate compared to other population centers, but the virus has still affected his work. In this installment of "The Essentials," Reuben says the pandemic may change the way funerals are conducted for good.

Vikki McCloskey is a biologist at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. The museum has been closed for months, but there are tens of thousands of animals, bugs, and fish that live there. And they still need to eat. In this installment of "The Essentials," McCloskey takes us into a swamp as she feeds four snapping turtles and an albino alligator named Claude.

A Hospital Chaplain On The Front Lines Of COVID-19

May 11, 2020

Rev. Claire Bohman provides support to patients, their loved ones, and staff at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. In this installment of our new series "The Essentials," Rev. Claire says COVID-19 has more caregivers asking for spiritual and emotional support.