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Voces Oral History Center Interview with Armando Trejo

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0:00 - COVID Impact on Work and Personal Life

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Segment Synopsis: Armando Trejo, originally from Mexico City, had previously visited the United States several times before his official stay in 1986. His first job would be at a bar and he would have several other various jobs before he began working at libraries, such as Gail Borden Public Library and Elgin Community College in Elgin, Illinois.

Trejo would be pushed to obtain his master’s degree in library sciences by his former boss Jack Weiss. He would then do so and begin working as a reference librarian. He would later on take courses regarding digital archives and would find himself working as an archivist at Elgin Community College Library for 26 years.

However, the pandemic has altered Trejo’s work environment. Elgin Community College, where Trejo is employed, would close around the time of spring break and would open back up with limited capacity. He works remotely but will at times visit the archive, where he must wear a mask upon entry. He says it is safe to do so because he is the only person in the library. Although, the pandemic has brought upon economic and financial hardships, Armando has not received any salary cuts.

Trejo first heard about the virus in January and right away he knew it was serious. He recalls discussing the virus with family, friends, church members, colleagues, but he doesn’t know anyone in the US personally that contracted the virus. He took precautions such as social distancing, wearing gloves, and masks.

Armando has family in several regions throughout Mexico who are also worried and taking precautions. As for his church, they used to have congregation meetings, but now services are online. He does go every other Friday to help clean the church, but it’s just two or three people.

Keywords: COVID-19--Safety in Work Environment; Elgin Community College; Elgin, Illinois; Mexico; Pandemic; Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Subjects: Colleges; COVID-19 (Disease)--Prevention; Degree-granting institutions; Hispanics (United States); Social Interaction--United States

8:37 - Government Response and Change in Personal Behavior

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Segment Synopsis: Armando notes that it’s hard to predict the long-term outcomes of the pandemic because there’s so many variables. As of now since there is not a vaccine, there’s definitely a new normality with having to avoid public spaces.

While he thinks that the state of Illinois is properly following procedures to prevent the spread of the virus, he believes that at the end of the day it’s the responsibility of the citizens to follow protocols. He’s observed that all people, both old and young, are not following protocols. Whenever Armando does go out, he makes sure to avoid people who are not wearing masks. He doesn’t make any physical contact with people except for “giving elbows”.

He emphasizes that the federal government has inadequately handled the pandemic by denying the gravity of the situation. They ignored specialists and signs and were in complete denial, Armando says. There are two things that Armando sees as intertwined with the future of the country. First, with the current leadership, he doesn’t think that there’ll be a bright future. Secondly, there has to be a vaccine and governments have to be able to distribute it properly. Overall, Armando wishes that the federal government would take the necessary responsibilities to face the virus.

Keywords: Coronavirus exposure; COVID-19--State regulations; Pandemic; Public Health Measures; Social Distancing

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease)--Prevention; COVID-19 (Disease)--Safety measures; Quarantine--Social aspects; Social Interaction--United States