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PRIMARY CARE

Covid-19 is exposing the inequality of mental health care access for essential workers

An Instacart employee is pictured working amid the coronavirus outbreak.
REUTERS/Cheney Orr
Instacart workers are essential during the pandemic—but they don’t necessarily always access to health benefits.
  • Michelle Cheng
By Michelle Cheng

Reporter

Michelle Lovero-Holliday has taken a step back from the hustle of delivering groceries.

In the early, chaotic stages of the coronavirus pandemic, Lovero-Holliday says she was unsure how to protect herself, both from the virus—she was especially worried about bringing Covid-19 home to her husband, who has two collapsed lungs—and from the stress of fighting for Instacart orders to fill. When demand was high, she says, she was frequently swiping at her phone “two to three times a second,” trying to snag more work.

Lovero-Holliday, 50, got into gig work after being laid off two years ago from her job as an HR manager. Prior to the pandemic, she says, her gig-work stress was mostly about money: Could she get enough orders? Would she be able to pay her bills? Now, her worries include whether she’ll “make it out alive today without bringing anything home.”

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