From custodians to abortion providers, how coronavirus is changing our lives

As recently as March 14, there was a sense among some Canadians that the requests to steer clear of one another for fear of infecting our loved ones with the new coronavirus were overblown.

On that particular sunny Saturday in Kingston, Ont., a 21-year-old university student who did not let her compromised immune system, nor the pandemic, get in the way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, smiled into the camera and said: “I’m not even worried because I take supplements and I self-medicate.”

Never mind the fact that studies continue to show most supplements don’t work, nor is there a vaccine yet to protect against COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Before the weekend was out, mass closures were being announced related to gyms, schools and travel.

Now, there are calls to embrace social distancing to help flatten the curve, horror stories of Italian doctors forced to choose who lives and who dies and a seemingly never-ending list of cancellations and closures.

The situation changes almost hourly. And while so much is to be determined, it’s clear that COVID-19 is already changing people’s lives nationwide. Here is how it has impacted a microbiologist, a call centre agent, a school custodian, abortion providers, kids counsellors and an inmate:

The custodian

Dan Jackson is spending all of March break deep-cleaning schools for the Limestone District School Board in Kingston, Ont. That’s standard. What isn’t standard is what he’s cleaning.

Usually, Jackson and his fellow custodians are given a bigger cleaning project over the spring holidays, refinishing the floors or something similarly hard to accomplish with hundreds of children underfoot.

This March, the mission is “high-touch areas: desktops, countertops, washrooms, floors.”

And it’s going to take a little extra time. While, usually, custodians are told to use their own discretion for swapping out gloves and cloths, Jackson says they’re under strict orders to swap gloves, cloths, mop heads and buckets of soapy water after every room.

While worry is always in the back of someone’s mind, Jackson says, for the most part, “I try not to let it bother me too much.”

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