He is a board-certified drug and alcohol consultant who opened a sober apartment building at the peak of the deadly COVID-19 outbreak last winter and is on site at least six days a week.
She works for a production company, colonized their kitchen table for her two huge computer monitors, and stayed mostly locked up in her 600-square-foot apartment in Mar Vista, where they now dine on TV trays.
“When Los Angeles was the worst place on Earth for COVID, I went out and looked at three houses a day,” co-owner Jack Shane said while scouting for Hyperion Sober Living. “Kara was very worried. It’s an easy way to say it. “
Schein’s work means that he is in a world almost every day where it is impossible to distinguish vaccinated from sick. Cara Ferraro’s lets her stay at home with the cats, her anxiety and the constant pile of dishes in the sink.
The pandemic has changed the fabric of the lives of many households, especially those with very different working conditions. This raised questions about privilege and equality in families and led to difficult conversations about responsibility and burden. The problems are big and small: health, privacy – and who is washing, sweeping floors and shops looking for groceries.
Jackie Nunez created a color-coded Google document to share household chores with her partner Jack Dobbrow. “It was beautiful,” she said. “We’ve been using it for a month.” Sophie Bennett has learned to ignore her husband’s voice at 3 a.m. – he works at night in their one-room apartment in Koreatown. Torrance’s David Johnston spends his old commute time doing housework and “I’m happy to be doing it.”
As the 2nd year of the pandemic draws to a close, the world is moving towards normalcy. Most people who can be vaccinated have received the vaccine, and while the Omicron option looms, work is returning to some extent to the state it was in before the pandemic.
More and more Americans are returning to the office. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the proportion of those working from home at least part-time at 11.3% in November, up from a high of 35.4% in May 2020.
But that still means 17.5 million people work from home and may have to deal with other family members who can’t: grocery clerks and teachers, people who provide childcare, and those who work in restaurants, doctors, nurses, janitors, delivery drivers.
“If someone goes out into the world and someone stays at home, it creates problems for both,” said Arne Kalleberg, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, who wrote about “COVID-19, precarity and the workforce.” “
Between those who can stay at home and those who cannot, “the inequality is enormous,” he said.
Bucky, a three-legged senior lifeguard cat, sleeps on the couch, wrapped in an LA Dodgers blanket. The photogenic Zelda is racing through the cat tower. The multi-story blue structure is tucked under the window between the Papasan chair and the love chair where Ferraro and Shine sit shoulder to shoulder.
As the pandemic wore on, 30-year-olds learned to work together in a small apartment filled with things. At first, he ran therapy groups from the living room via Zoom. She joined staff meetings – 10 feet or so at the kitchen table, also through Zoom, not in her Burbank office.
When the treatment centers where he worked began to open, he resumed personal consultations. – and met a client who had the virus.
“I got scared right away, although he told me not to,” Ferraro said. “I really thought:“ What should we do? “I wrote to our doctor by e-mail:” Can I get tested? ” Googled all the CDC stuff like, “How will this affect me?” “
He isolated himself in the bedroom as long as he could handle it. She slept on the couch, wore a mask in the apartment. None of them got sick. They have both been vaccinated since then. Ferraro returned to therapy through Zoom. They had lengthy conversations about how to deal with anxiety and clean up the house. Negotiations are ongoing. Since he opened the sober life center, Shine has spent little time at home.
Schein: “I went from 75% of housework to 25% when she worked in Burbank. Now she does 97%, and I do 3%. I’m not pulling my weight. “
Ferraro: “We haven’t done a deep cleaning for a long time.”
Shine: “The last six months have been easier, at least for me. I think we’ve accepted our new roles. ”
California isolation began on March 19, 2020. Jackie Nunez and Jack Dobbrow moved to San Mateo together two days later. They stopped seeing each other several days a week to spend every waking minute together.
“It was a strange time to live together,” Nunez said. “We didn’t kill each other. Cleaning is our biggest problem. “
The couple have since moved to Ventura. Nunez is the county’s assistant public information officer and goes to the office every day. Dobbrow is marketing for a Los Angeles-based electric car company and works remotely on a full-time basis.
“Now I’m in the office, I come home and ask:“ How did it all go bad so quickly? “I just cleaned it,” she said recently. “But someone lives in the house eight hours a day.”
When the couple first moved in together, Nunez laid out all of the household chores in an intricate Google Doc. They vowed to look at the spreadsheet every Sunday, figure out what needs to be done, and split tasks. Their system quickly broke down.
That’s what the 26-year-olds say. And they argue. According to Nunez, the conversations are “controversial” and “repeated.”
But they make little progress each time. Vacuuming every week, cleaning the bathroom and kitchen. He will vacuum when she asks, clean the bathroom when she asks. But he also fixes things, he drives most of the time when they go on a trip, lets the plumber in because he is at home.
“Once we talked and received [monthly] cleaning services, ”said Nunez, a self-proclaimed cleanliness freak.
And then there was the breakthrough moment, the product of intimacy, conversation and COVID-19.
“He said, ‘I don’t care about cleaning, but I know it makes you happy.” That’s why I do it. “
The big question Leonila Irias is facing is how to stay safe, running a childcare center from her neat pistachio home in northwest Hawthorne as the global pandemic surges and flows outside.
Here she lives with her eldest daughter Alejandra Alarcón, a 29-year-old researcher at the Los Angeles Study Center at Loyola Marymount University. In addition, about a dozen children come here every day, with one or two parents in tow, chasing any germs created by their own households.
Irias is approaching 60. Although she works from home, she does not work remotely in any way; instead, the world comes to her. This continues to make her a target for a virus that has killed more than 74,000 people in California alone.
Hispanics like Irias are 2.1 times more likely to catch the virus than non-Hispanic whites, according to The Times coronavirus tracker. When you take into account their share of the population, blacks and Hispanics die more often than others.
“There’s something very scary about hearing how the coronavirus has affected this group a lot – Hispanics, Hispanics, and blacks outnumbered most, isn’t there?” – said Alarcon. “I am afraid of my mother’s death.”
On Tuesday morning, before her accusations arrived, Irias demonstrated some of the the precautions she and her assistant Perla Alvarado take every day. There is a small table near the gate where children check in. It contains hand sanitizer and an electronic thermometer.
Packs of small masks are tucked into a clear plastic rack that hangs on the door of what was once the master bedroom. There are tiny workplaces where the smallest children sit; the elders work at the dinner table.
“It affected everyone, especially the children,” Irias said. Her charges call her Granny, grandmother in Spanish. “They do not understand. It is difficult for children to explain this, they must keep their distance and cannot hug when they enter. “
After working from home for more than a year – and sharing Wi-Fi with a dozen or so children studying remotely at the Irias Family Child Care Center – Alarcon returned to campus four days a week. Everyone on campus must be vaccinated or tested for the virus twice a week, she said.
On the one hand, she no longer needs to explain to her colleagues why they hear loud alphabet chanting in the background during Zoom meetings. On the other hand, she now joins children and their families as a potential disease vector, potential threat to her mother’s health and income.
Alarcon is still worried about carrying the virus home and the temporary closure of the Irias family day care center. Even a brief blackout creates the risk of losing clients who are forced to seek alternative childcare services and may not return to their mother’s work.
“It’s stress,” she said. “This is a strange strain of COVID that we have at home now.”