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Outbreak Wisconsin: ‘It’s The Unknown’

Madison Bartender Amy Moreland Reflects On Life During Coronavirus Pandemic

Amy Moreland
Amy Moreland, of Madison, lost her job when the bar that she worked at closed following an executive order from Gov. Tony Ever’s administration to limit the spread of COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Amy Moreland

With record numbers of people unemployed nationwide, the service industry has been hit particularly hard.

Just a few months ago, Madison bartender Amy Moreland’s life was headed in a good direction. She had quit drinking, left her job at the bar where she worked for a long time and started a new bartending gig with potential for a promotion. She had started seeing a therapist to address anxiety and depression that she had previously used alcohol to cope with.

“I was thriving,” she said.

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But suddenly, that progress came to a halt when Moreland, 38, found out she wouldn’t be returning to work. The bar where she works, One Barrel Brewing, closed its doors on March 17 following an executive order by Gov. Tony Evers.

Moreland, a high school graduate, has worked in service for a long time. It’s the only job she’s ever had, and she enjoys it.

“It’s not an easy job, but you don’t need a college degree to do it,” she said. “It is a job that’s flexible and you can make a good living doing.”

She applied for unemployment and is now getting about $100 each week. It’s something, but not enough to pay her rent, she said. She’s relying on the roughly $1,000 she had saved to go on vacation, which she expects to dry up quickly.

But it’s more than a financial problem, Moreland said. Being out of work is taking a toll on her mental health. She thrives with schedules and goals, she said, but now, her time is unstructured.

“It’s a balance of trying to forgive myself for not being productive during a pandemic, while also not giving myself permission to slide into a heavy depression,” she said.

Looking forward, Moreland worries that her life will never go back to normal.

“And what do I think will be different when this is over?” Moreland asked. “I think that’s part of the scary thing … it’s the unknown.”

Editor’s note: Outbreak Wisconsin is a collaborative project by Wisconsin Watch and WPR following Wisconsin residents as they navigate life during the coronavirus pandemic. The residents will contribute diary entries, in the form of audio, video, text, drawings and photos of themselves, their families and personal and professional lives. That content will be supplemented by interviews and digital content to provide a full picture of how the pandemic is affecting all aspects of life in Wisconsin.