California Domestic Workers Coalition

Truthout, By Sheila Bapat

Lee Plaza, 60, is a caregiver for a 90-year-old woman in Los Angeles. She works 12 hours per day, six days per week helping her client shower, groom, eat and perform other basic day to day functions. Needless to say, Plaza cannot perform this job remotely. “I take a bus to and from work, which is risky in terms of spreading germs, but I cannot afford to take Uber,” Plaza told Truthout. “I worry about getting my client sick, or vice versa, but if I don’t work, I will not get paid.”

The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought economic class lines into even sharper relief. Many domestic workers like Plaza — nannies, housekeepers and caregivers — are facing the difficult choice of either losing income and risking serious financial hardship, or showing up to work in conditions that put them at risk of exposure to, or transmission of, COVID-19. Critically, both Plaza and her client are in the highest risk age group for coronavirus fatality.

Plaza formerly had private health insurance, but she can no longer afford it. “I care for the elderly because I consider this a noble profession, and not everyone can be a caregiver,” Plaza told Truthout. “But if I get sick, I don’t know how I will pay my bills or care for my own family.”