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Essential Workers in a Pandemic Era

REGINA’s Perspective
by Regina Farmer | regina.farmer@chem-man.com

Wow! 2020 will definitely be a year to remember! As we are all struggling through these troubling times, I am proud to be a part of the ag aviation industry that is considered to be essential. Since our Chem-Man software is now online, my employees are all able to work remotely from home or in a separate office. It’s definitely different, but it all works out. I really miss having everyone together at the office (I’m a people person). We are being careful and as my dad always says, “As all things do, this will pass.” We just have to be patient.

I love talking with our customers and there are two of them that were nice enough to share their stories on how they are doing with the pandemic. They are both in states that had high numbers of covid infections early on.

Brittany Walker with Oligrow, LLC in Delhi, Louisiana. said that she worked from home for about eight weeks. She said, “It was quiet and wonderful and honestly, we didn’t miss a beat.” Now, they are back in the office and are being very careful. They social distance, sanitize before and after guests. “We ask our guests to wear masks, but most people already have one on. We feel that it’s as much a safety concern for yourself as everyone else.” Louisiana is a state that has been hit hard with major outbreaks. She said that she was thankful that they’re taking it as seriously as they are and need to be.

She said “The virus spreads so rapidly and the fact that you can be a carrier and be asymptomatic for up to two weeks makes it so difficult to stay ahead of the spread, despite the tireless efforts of our medical staff and first responders. We are continually washing hands, spraying and wiping down. It’s not a joke.”

I was proud to hear her say, “How thankful we are to have been online, because If we didn’t have Chem Man Online, the health and safety of our office staff and our workflow, being an essential mechanism of agriculture production, would have suffered.”

Washington state became well known for the first state to have recognized cases. With all of the negativity in our world, I have really enjoyed following Erin Morse on Facebook. Erin is the wife of Gavin Morse, owners of Gem Air, Inc. in Warden, Washington. Erin is such a positive figure and always seems to find a way to make you feel good about the whole situation. She often posts things like “Day 7 of the virus” and positive ways that her family is coping.

I talked to Erin about the situation for a good while. She said, “We were the epicenter for a little while. We were one of the first states to close down schools, businesses and have stay at home orders.“ The month of March really started affecting the entire state first with the closing of schools and then everything else following.

Her outlook is to proceed with caution, nervous but optimistic, trusting but wise, encouraging to our neighbors and to be concerned.

She said as the closures started her and husband Gavin wondered about their own business and whether it would be a total lockdown or not. “We realized we were going to still be able to operate, but to do so we would have to comply with essential business orders.” She said you can’t just be “open”, you must have PPE, temperatures taken, social distancing, hand washing and masks. “We are fortunate that we’re essential and outside a lot. We assigned everyone a vehicle and tried to create the flow of work so tasks are happening in separate parts of the airport as much as possible so we can be distant.” When it comes to their company, their motto is, “If you are sick don’t come to work.” If everyone in their small company got sick, it could really hurt the entire company. “We wipe things down, use hand sanitizer, have regular hand washing intervals including when they get to work and before they go home for the day.” She mentioned some PPE was already in place, but now it’s harder to buy.

Erin and Gavin have two beautiful daughters, Maggie age 7 and Adi age 5. “In the beginning, a lot of things were unknown and felt big and heavy. Gavin and I realized this is a historic thing. When our kids are older they’re going to remember this time. How we choose to respond will frame their experience and understanding. We wanted to make this positive as much as possible. So, we tell our kids things like, ‘Isn’t this awesome? We’ve got extra family time!’”
“A friend gave us two little desks that we put in the office for the girls. We have worked to find fun ways to incorporate school work, paperwork and online assignments. Since we were unable to have a birthday party, we got family and friends to dress up as characters and make short videos with clues, then decorated our yard with flags and clue items to create a live version of the Carmen Sandiego game.”

She said their core values were faith and family. This era could be awful or this could be a gift. She read so many negative social media posts, she decided to post positive things that might inspire others. “This was our choice and we didn’t want to tell others what to do or how to feel, but instead offer encouragement and smiles.”

My thoughts: Someday we’ll look back at this time in history (similar to the big flu pandemic of 1918) and be able to tell our grandkids about it. To all of my ag friends, whether you are flying in the air or are on the ground, you are not only essential to your country, you are loved by your family and friends, so stay safe!





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