Life or livelihood: Americans wrestle with impossible choice

The demand was direct — be there at 5 p.m. — and Ms. Pinson, 33, was agonizing over how to respond. If she stayed home, she could lose wages or even her job. If she went to work, she risked bringing the coronavirus back to her great-uncle, 73, who lives with her and has health conditions.

“We need the money for sure, but I don’t want to put his life at risk just so we can have money,” she said on Thursday. “He’s had open-heart surgery, he’s got asthma, there’s no way he could come back from that. I can’t lose him.”

Ms. Pinson said the bingo hall would require customers to wear masks, but she was sure people would take them off — they would have to in order to eat the burgers, nachos and other food she makes.

She was leaning toward showing up, hoping that people followed the state’s guidelines and kept their distance. If they did not, she said, she would probably ask her boss to let her take additional time off.