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Phoenix Residents Reflect On What They've Endured During COVID-19

This week marks one year since the COVID-19 pandemic began and life changed for many of us. During a Friday virtual event with U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, Arizonans like Susana Andrade and Esther Duran Lumm reflected on what they've endured in the past year. 

Last month, Andrade and her family got sick from COVID-19, she said. They are feeling better now, but the three-week recovery time took a financial toll on the family that lives paycheck to paycheck. Andrade works as a part-time cafeteria worker for a south Phoenix school district and has been part of the effort to feed the district's needy students and families during the pandemic, she said. Her husband works for a small business. Both of their employers don’t offer them benefits so they weren't paid for the time they had to take off work while they were sick. 

"We work the whole year, we are hard working people, you know we keep America running, we were essential, we were feeding kids and it feel kind of like a betrayal for us," Andrade said.

Andrade eventually did receive some compensation from her school district, she said. Andrade also applied and landed a new full-time job with benefits with her district that she’s starting soon. 

For Duran, a Phoenix retiree, the pandemic has been an emotional roller coaster for seniors like her who know people who've died during this time from COVID or other illnesses but couldn’t attend their funerals for safety reasons. One event that was especially hard for her and her family was hearing that a nephew from California who died in December but wasn't able to be buried until February. 

"Not being able to give the family support was extremely traumatic," Duran said. 

The virus has touched in her in other ways. In her family alone, they had 34 immediate and extended family members get infected with the virus. A few of them were hospitalized and had to fight for their lives. she said. 

“My brother in fact was fortunate enough to be released from the hospital, but he’s still at home, still on oxygen and is going through therapy in order just to be able to walk around the block," Duran said.

Seeing other people suffering has also been traumatic for her, she added. 

Rocio Hernandez was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2022.