The unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic: NYC’s essential workers

On March 22 at 8 p.m., the City of New York ordered most of the workforce to stay at home to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

That week, many residents started commuting from the bedroom to the sofa. But essential workers have continued clocking in to keep the city they love ticking, from the front line to the lunch line.

Post photographer Annie Wermiel observed New Yorkers living in lockdown for The Post’s photo special, “Apart Together.”

Lisa Ringgold, 56, sanitation supervisor for Times Square Alliance, monitoring cleaning and and maintenance operations

“I feel great about the work that I do. This is my turf, this is my job. This is what I do. This is what I’m used to doing five days a week, sometimes six. Every day that I’m supposed to be here, I’m here. And I love New York.” 

Aretha Garner, 56, cook in charge at PS 1 in Manhattan, making meals for families to pick up each day while schools are closed

“When my kids used to come home, they would complain about the people in the cafeteria. So I said, ‘I’m gonna go and work in the cafeteria, and make sure the kids is happy.’ ”

Charlie Salino, 28, manager of his family business, Parkside Auto Care in Brooklyn

“My mechanics … they’re the ones doing the real hard work. The doctors that come in, the firefighters, those are the real heroes in line I just gotta make sure their cars are safe, and that’s really why I’m here.”

Mayra Daly, 35, NYPD Sergeant at the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway, Queens

“My mother is from Jamaica, Queens, so being a public servant means everything to me. My colleagues … [and I] want to make sure that everyone is practicing social distancing, because the sooner that we all can get back to normal, that means we also can get back to normal with our families.”

Brendon Charles, 22, New York City Fire Department emergency medical technician

“To be working right now is a little bit hectic … but it feels good, because every day I’m risking my life to help other people. No matter what the problem is, it could be something small, it could be something big. [People] see us, they feel relief, they feel a sense of safety. You can always call — we’re going to be there to help.”

Andre Harris, 54, MTA subway operator for 30 years, driving the 1 train

It’s sometimes eerie when you go outside [because] you don’t hear kids laughing and running, and you don’t see people getting on the train, doing everyday life that we’re accustomed to… but people have got places to go, and it’s important that we keep moving the subway to get them where they’ve got to go, so they, too, can do their part in getting us through this tough time.”

Angel Santiago, 60, sanitation worker, serving the West Village

“If we weren’t doing our jobs, the city wouldn’t be clean. It wouldn’t be healthy. It would make it more difficult for the city to keep on moving. I’ve been here in the city for 60 years. I want to do another 60. Let’s stay safe.”

Jennifer Tran, 60, United States Postal Service letter carrier in Linden Hill, Queens

“My customers depend on me. When they see me, it seems like they see their family — especially for medicine delivery for the elderly. They need it.”

Jeremy Ruiz, 43, concierge at Upper West Side co-op building the Park Royal

“There are some residents and tenants who can’t even come outside. We have older residents here, and some of the stuff — like food deliveries, water, milk, stuff that they need — we have to bring it upstairs [for them]. I feel like we have a responsibility to help people, to serve the people that live here.” 

Jason Asay, 46, foreman for G-Tech Elevator Associates in Manhattan

“We have to keep the elevators running in the apartments and condominiums that are still occupied. I’m getting a lot of grief from my family — my wife and kids — coming home after being out all day in Manhattan, working around people. You take as many precautions as you can, do the right thing with masks and gloves, and everything that they’re telling you to do. And just hope for the best.”

Maggie Mieles, 49, manager of Di Fara’s Pizza in Brooklyn, which her father opened in 1965

“Although we are unable to have dine-in customers, we have been able to provide takeout and pickup and delivery options for them…The feedback has been tremendous. I’m grateful that we get to keep employees on payroll. Although the hours have been cut and staff has been limited, we feel fortunate that we’re able to maintain some stability here.” 

Kenny Smith, 48, mate on the Staten Island Ferry, where he’s worked for 16 years

“We still continue to come in as a crew. We all stick together. We know our responsibilities to the city, to the public, as civil servants. We’re a big family here, we all look out for each other.”

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