CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Bay Area companies hiring to meet new demands, Social Security offices closed, and can coronavirus be transmitted by shipped packages?

BySimone Chavoor KGO logo
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Bay Area companies hiring in order to meet new demands

Because of -- not in spite of -- the coronavirus crisis, multiple Bay Area companies are looking to hire new employees to meet the demands of increased business.

Snagajob, an online database of hourly jobs, lists 7,000 jobs that are currently hiring in the Bay Area. As one might expect, most are for Amazon warehouse workers and food delivery people.

Grocery stores are especially feeling the need for more employees as concerned citizens line up outside their doors daily for supplies. Safeway says they are hiring 2,000 delivery drivers within Northern California, Nevada, and Hawaii; most will be in the Bay Area's 165 locations. Raley's is hiring personal shoppers in the East Bay as well as Sacramento.

Online delivery companies are also moving to hire more workers. Amazon reports they are hiring 100,000 workers nationwide. Grocery delivery company Farmstead is hiring 30 to 50 more employees as W-2 workers; the CEO of the company says they're looking to "double our headcount in the next week and a half."

Healthcare companies are also looking to relieve some pressure with more helping hands. Incredible Health, a job-matching platform for nursing vacancies, reports a 10 to 15% increase in employer demand. Kaiser is currently hiring, including seasonal contract workers. CommonSpirit Health, formerly Dignity Health, is bringing on part time or per-diem workers.

Social Security offices closed; services available online and by phone

The Social Security Administration is closing all 1,200 offices nationwide in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus to one of the most vulnerable populations.

Starting Tuesday, the Social Security field office -- as well as the offices that hear disability insurance appeals -- will be closed. Most employees will work from home to ensure non-disruption of services.

Service will continue to be available via the agency's toll-free line, (800) 772-1213, and its website. Payments to more than 69 million Social Security beneficiaries are not affected.

Some exceptions will be made, including those seeking "reinstatement of benefits in dire circumstances; assistance to people with severe disabilities, blindness or terminal illnesses; and people in dire need of eligibility decisions for Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid eligibility related to work status." In order to obtain these services, people must call the office in advance for arrangements.

CDC, WHO agree consumers are unlikely to catch coronavirus through packages

As more folks rely on deliveries for their necessities, consumers are asking if packages -- especially those from overseas -- are safe.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a lot is still unknown about COVID-19, they have been able to look back to previous similar outbreaks for guidance. The CDC says "because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods."

The World Health Organization concurs: "People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus." Similarly, the director for the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University, Elizabeth McGraw, told Business insider that ""If we had transmission via packages we would have seen immediate global spread out of China early in the outbreak... we did not see that and therefore I think the risk is incredibly low."

Reasonable precautions are still advised. Consumers should open their packages near to their front door and take out any associated trash immediately. And, of course -- after opening packages, consumers are urged to wash their hands immediately and thoroughly.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.