I will admit, I am scared. I have been given the opportunity to take off work. Well right now I cannot afford to do that with husband not working much. But I am around a lot of people all day in the vet office. And employees keep coming to work sick. There has been a round of strep throat recently. But people need the vet office to stay open. I'm not even sure my little cattle dog is out of the woods yet. What I really want is to work from home right now. And it could be done if my office would loan me the equipment.

This is the first installment of a two-part series featuring interviews with the workers in the service, health, and other sectors who are still going to their jobs each day during the coronavirus crisis—the ones keeping our society functioning.

ST. LOUIS—The mood is uneasy. The streets are quiet and show their pain through the paint chipped curbs, cracked sidewalks, and boarded alleyway doors—there’s no foot traffic. Crowds no longer gather to hide the city’s worn-down façade.

Off in the distance, church bells ring. No one is listening. And soon it will be overtaken by the sounds of emergency vehicle sirens dashing off to care for troubled souls during troubled times.

This is a new reality. It’s the reality of life lived from a distance—at least six to 12 feet apart.

With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and in the wake of a bumbling and short-sighted response from Washington, D.C., communities have finally begun self-isolating at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stay home, read a book, walk outside (with precaution), and be patient. Those are the instructions, more or less. But not everyone can do that.