Microbiologist John Bonaparte can count on one hand the days he has taken off from work since South Carolina recorded its first cases of the coronavirus in March 2020.
One of his co-workers in the state’s public health laboratory, Kendra Rembold, has missed three seasons of her children’s soccer games while pulling 12-hour shifts to keep up with the state’s unprecedented demand for COVID-19 testing.
And one of their supervisors in the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s cramped lab in Columbia, Christy Greenwood, decided she couldn’t adequately juggle the demands of the pandemic and her responsibilities as a single parent. So she took her 5- and 7-year-old children to stay at their grandmother’s house until things calmed down at work.
More than 550 days since the coronavirus took hold in South Carolina, that respite still hasn’t come for the hundreds of public health workers who toil in the background of the state’s response.
Instead, they say, COVID-19 has proven to be an unending nightmare, serving up 12- and 15-hour shifts, seven-day workweeks and a buffet of anxiety, frustration and fatigue.
NEW: We went behind the scenes @SCDHEC, where public health workers have pushed themselves to their mental and physical breaking points in the first 550 days of COVID-19.
They're exhausted, frustrated as the Delta variant extends their pandemic nightmare https://t.co/sC3MB1j9wR
— Avery Wilks (@AveryGWilks) September 12, 2021