On March 22, the hotel where I work in downtown San Antonio shut down operations. In the days leading up to the shutdown, the hotel was taking it day by day. I work in the banquets department, and employee hours were being cut as groups started canceling their conferences little by little. The coronavirus pandemic had prompted the City of San Antonio to close restaurants and bars all over the city, and tourism had slowed to a trickle. We all knew what was coming.

My assistant manager called me to tell me that the hotel was going to shut down operations for 60 days starting March 22 but would continue to monitor the situation to see if it would be longer. He recommended that I apply for unemployment benefits or maybe try seeing about another employment opportunity while the hotel was shut down.

In an email sent to all employees, we were told that the closure was due to the decline in current and future business due to the coronavirus and, most of all, for the health and well-being of the hotel employees. Even though I was not going to be getting any hours at work, I would not be laid off, which to me said a lot about the company. They told us that we would be back to work as soon as the pandemic died down and business came back to the hotel.

My colleagues and I have kept in touch through group text message and by phone. What most worried me and my colleagues, other than the loss of income, was whether or not we would keep our benefits. Luckily, we were told that we would still have benefits through the month of May.

Having to apply for unemployment was something I never thought I’d be doing. It was a big hit for me because I rely on my income from my hotel job to help my parents financially since they are not able to work. My mother had a mild stroke two years ago, and my father is diabetic and gets very little in social security.

I also have to make sure that my parents stay home as much as possible because they are at high risk of more severe symptoms if they contract the coronavirus. So I’m having to go buy groceries for them and make sure they take their medications and vitamins to try and keep their immune systems up. I know my colleagues also have families to take care of and hope and pray that they are OK financially, staying healthy, and that they are safe. 

My education has been impacted in a big way as well. I am currently a graduate student in the public administration program at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Due to the coronavirus, the university extended spring break in order to plan next steps. Because of the extended spring break, my whole schedule got thrown off. I had to go back and revise the last two and half months of school assignment due dates in my daily planner and reorganize my schoolwork schedule for each of my classes.

After the break, UTSA was forced to switch in-person classes to online classes for the safety of the students, university faculty, and staff. It’s a big change that I’m still adjusting to. The professors have tried their best to accommodate everyone, and I commend them for it. One plus side to all this is that I have a lot more time to focus on my schoolwork.

Another big part of my life – staying active – has also been affected. I’ve had to resort to working out at home since all gyms in the city are closed until further notice. I love going to the gym because I like staying in shape as best as I can. I was able to purchase some workout equipment to use at home, but it’s not quite the same as going to the gym, which for me offers good motivation.

I keep hearing that finding a routine can help in these times of uncertainty. Between school, work, the gym, and looking after my parents, I’m so used to being on the go. Now that everything has changed, it’s hard to develop a new routine in the face of so many new sources of stress.

At night I have trouble sleeping because my mind is just racing 1,000 miles per hour. The fact that I’m not working, hoping that I get unemployment benefits soon, adjusting to online classes, my parents being at high risk of getting the coronavirus – it’s too much sometimes. I try to keep busy with my schoolwork to clear my head of negativity and focus on my learning and goals for my future. In these uncertain times, it helps to have a goal to focus on, something to look forward to when this is all over.