Students are laid off during Coronavirus

Bruno Lopez-Vega, Staff Reporter

Shopping chaos, the shift to online classes and orders to stay at home have pummeled students across the nation as they struggle to finish a hectic semester as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. But for some, the road ahead only becomes more treacherous as jobs shut down or lay off employees, putting students in a tight spot as their sources of income are cut off at a time when they will need every penny.

Concerns over the spread of the virus led the state of California to issue orders for the closing of non-essential businesses and restrictions on how businesses can operate.

As a result, many businesses throughout the valley have either closed, reduced hours or downsized, and many College of the Desert students who work suffer the consequences.

Austin Berry, a theatre major at COD, was recently laid off from his position as a lead generation specialist for Cambria.

Cambria is a Minnesota-based company that sells and manufactures quartz surfaces and countertops, and the Coachella Valley was the center of their Southern California operations and one of their most profitable areas.

However, the state’s shelter-at-home and essential business orders severely hindered their ability to sell products in the state, forcing them to make the difficult decision of laying off most of its staff, including Berry.

“It’s a terrible feeling to be laid off, but I can’t say I’m surprised it happened,” said Berry, “Before I was laid off, I was the only person in my immediate family that was not out of work yet. I felt it was only a matter of time given they were a nonessential business, but they were a great company to work for and I hope to work for them again in the future.”

Whether these laid-off employees will be rehired later is unknown.

Pierce Gregor, another COD student, had started a new job at the newly opened Floor and Decor in La Quinta, a store specializing in flooring. As a result of the virus outbreak, he and other part-time employees were put on furlough.

Despite his loss of income Gregor, is not taking it too hard yet. “Obviously it’s really unfortunate to be out of work right now, but at least I’m less at-risk now that I can stay home. I also managed to put a lot into savings, so that’ll keep me afloat for now.”

The Coachella Valley businesses that remain open suffer from reduced traffic as more and more people are staying home and the cancellation of local events which will not bring in much-needed tourism commerce.

Even the gig economy has been hit as COD students that take jobs from companies like Uber and Grubhub report fewer opportunities to make decent or enough money.

As the economy sags and unemployment steadily increases, many students find themselves in similarly precarious situations as money grows tighter.

Only time will tell if things will return to how they were, and even then some students may not be able to recoup their losses.