Watch CBS News

COVID 1 Year: Essential Workers Risk Their Own Safety To Keep Supplies And Services Running

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- When the Tri-State Area shut down nearly a year ago, essential workers kept us going.

Thousands put themselves at risk every day -- from first responders and transit workers, to grocery store employees.

UPS deliveryman Tony Mazzella documented his workdays during the pandemic.

"I'm not going to say it wasn't scary. It was different," he told CBS2's Alice Gainer. "In the early stages of the pandemic, we had free reign of the streets."

His route changed from mostly commercial to residential.

"It was pretty desolate. I mean, ghost town, for lack of a better word," he said.

He served as a life line, bringing packages of food, toilet paper and PPE to people at home.

The most important delivery of his 30-plus years on the job? The first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine to NYU Langone.

"I was just beaming with pride," Mazzella said.


Anthony Roberts was laid off from his job at a car dealership during the pandemic and started working for Amazon seven months ago, realizing very quickly what it meant to be essential.

"Some teachers are expecting the office supplies, and certain kids are also looking toward getting their books," he said.

His job has also been essential for his mental health.

"I see people, I see kids, versus being home and not seeing anyone," said Roberts.

Pre-pandemic, NYPD Det. Fred Washington would work with at-risk youth in person. But that changed during the shutdown.

"The biggest challenge is to get them on the phone and talk. Some didn't want to talk, some just had a lot of issues, some were even running away because they didn't want to be at their own house," he told Gainer. "I tried to get them jobs, online jobs, so they have income coming in, as well."

Then, he contracted COVID-19.

"I caught it working," he said.


"There were seven of us that contracted the virus," said Charles Passarella, the vice president of maintenance and operation support for MTA Bridges and Tunnels.

Passarella said early on, he responded with co-workers to a water leak. Despite wearing masks, days later, they were sick.

"I'm in the maintenance field, and we can't do that remotely," he said.

"We are the ones that have got to take the extra step to help people out in New York City," said Washington.

Extra steps that involved extra risk.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.