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COVID-19 Pandemic Has Had Rough Impact On Pharmacists, Only Intensified By Omicron Variant

CHICAGO (CBS) -- COVID-19 testing, vaccines, prescriptions – during this almost two-year pandemic, pharmacy workers are carrying a heavy load, and the stress is showing.

As CBS 2's Shardaa Gray reported, Walgreens said they have had to add extra shifts so pharmacists can do more COVID-19 testing – including enhancing their technology to reduce workloads.

We had a chance to talk to the owner of a North Lawndale pharmacy, who said he is exhausted.

"It's definitely been a challenge for myself," said Edwin Muldrow.

Muldrow has had his share of moments of being lethargic.

"I just take it in strides because, you know, I have a responsibility to my business; to the community as well," he said.

Del-Kar Pharmacy, 3726 W. 16th St., has been a staple in the North Lawndale community since 1960. It is the oldest Black-owned drugstore in the city of Chicago.

Muldrow told us he has never closed his doors since the pandemic started.

"Since I'm an essential service business, we were able to persevere through all the different supply chain issues - having access to medicine, as well as food and groceries," he said.

Muldrow said not only is the stress of the Omicron variant causing a mental issue for him, but he believes it's weighing heavy on everyone.

"Anytime you have a lack - you know, a lack of contact with family, a lack of contact with your clergy - and just being able to do the simple things that you choose and normally would call your daily routine - so we all are hands-on-deck with this right now," he said.

We reached out to Deerfield-based Walgreens to find out how other pharmacies are handling the Omicron surge. Senior director of external relations Fraser Engerman said in a statement:

"With heightened demand for COVID vaccines, testing and other services, in addition to the busy holiday season, our pharmacy and store team members are working incredibly hard every day. We ask that our customers please show patience and understanding as together, we continue to navigate the evolving pandemic environment."

Muldrow said the best thing you can do, obviously, is to get vaccinated and get your booster. He also advised taking daily vitamins, eating healthy, and getting eight hours of sleep – practices he said will give us all a chance at fighting off the virus.

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