Brittany Templeton is like a lot of other people who don’t have coronavirus but whose lives are being drastically impacted by the pandemic.
The 23-year-old single mom of a 2-year-old son, Zaiden, works as a bartender at Outback Steakhouse in Greenwood. Since Gov. Henry McMaster ordered restaurants and bars to close for dine-in service, Templeton has been out of work. The restaurant offered her an opportunity to work in takeout or delivery, but for reduced pay.
“I can’t even do that because I know I won’t make enough money to pay for his day care,” Templeton said of her son. “I’d just be working to put him in day care so he could get sick again. He would have to be in day care for me to go back to work because I really don’t have anyone else for him to go to.”
She also worries Zaiden might get infected at day care, which she still has to pay for even though he’s not going.
“I’m not taking him just because I don’t want to risk anything,” Templeton said. “But I’m still having to pay half of my payment, which is still 70 bucks a week. If I have what I have saved now, with no extra income, that’s all I’m going to be spending on his day care.”
Templeton is also in school, pursuing an occupational therapy career, and was on target to graduate from Piedmont Tech in December. Classes have moved online, but it has affected her lab schedule.
“With a 2-year-old, how can you sit and do homework on a computer when he’s going to want to get on it too,” she said. “Whenever he goes to sleep, I’ll get on the computer. In the mornings, I’ll get on there. I just have to do little bits at a time. It’s concerning me a little bit because, if I do it little by little, when is it going to get done? Especially if we are going to be out with this virus, I don’t want to take him back to day care. I don’t have that free six hours of what I need to get done.”
If Templeton is able to continue school, she could start her clinicals this winter. But, because of the virus, she might not be able to do them as planned.
“If I can’t get my clinicals done, I can’t graduate and get a certificate or license to do anything,” she said. “It could set me back a whole other semester.”
Templeton has some savings, but it’s not enough to keep her afloat for long.
“I’m scared about rent coming up just because that’s a big chunk of change,” she said. “I’m going to need that for groceries or whatever we need if we are stuck in the house weeks on end. I’m just going to drain out and not have anything.”
Templeton said she looks forward to any government assistance, including the proposed legislation that could offer payments of $1,000 or more to all adults and $500 for children.
“Any bit at this point is going to be helpful if we are going to be out for a while,” Templeton said. “My concern is having to pay for his day care weekly. When I go back to school, I’ll have to find another sitter throughout the day or find another day care and have to go through that process all over again. It’s just kind of a setback. It’s just too risky. He could get it (the virus) and come home and give it to any of us, then we’ll be out of work. It’s just kind of a big mess.”
Zaiden had a cold two weeks ago, so Templeton really doesn’t want him in any day care at this point.
“If his immune system is not well from the cold, I just don’t want to take him and risk anything,” she said.
She’s been trying to keep her son busy.
“We’ve been together 24/7,” she said. “We went fishing, but he’s going to get bored. I’m trying to keep him entertained so he doesn’t get tired of me.”
Templeton’s mother’s birthday was Saturday, but she said she couldn’t “go all out” for the celebration.
“I can’t spend money on a birthday present when I need to buy food or diapers — and even wipes,” she said. “I’ve been riding on one pack (of wipes) for a week just because I can’t find them anymore. I’ve been going to Walmart and Dollar General, and everyone is out of everything. So, how can you stock up when nothing is there? So, that’s stresses you out.”
Sam Shaw, 24, is a regional sales manager for Ulta, a beauty and cosmetics business. Even though Ulta closed, it is paying its workers while they are out.
She said Ulta is closed until at least March 31, but that could be extended.
“Thankfully, they are still going to pay us,” Shaw said. “I’m really happy that I’m there because a lot of people are not getting paid. Some of my roommates are servers, so they kind of pretty much lost their jobs for now. Most of my paycheck is going to go for bills for everybody.”
She has five roommates and said the past couple of weeks have been “strange” in the household.
“We already stocked up on groceries last week because everybody was going and buying things,” Shaw said. “So, we were like, ‘We have to go buy things now before everything closes.’ Even when everything closed, we tried not to go anywhere.”
Ulta had a “catastrophe plan,” Shaw said. “I’m really thankful I’m in a job that is providing for me.”
She supports the measures the government has been taking to mitigate exposure to the virus.
“I think it’s really important to take these steps,” she said. “If you look at other countries like China and Italy, I don’t want to get to that point. I think some people aren’t taking it seriously, which is really important because there are people out there who it could really harm.”
Shaw’s sister lives in Washington state, which has been hit especially hard by the virus. Her sister planned to come to Greenwood on Wednesday, but she had to nix those plans. Her sister worked with someone who was infected, and their grandmother here has been struggling with an upper-respiratory infection.
“She didn’t want to come and give it to her,” Shaw said. “She hasn’t gotten tested, but she pretty much knows that she probably has it because they’ve had so many cases where she works.”