Concierge's work and family provide focus during pandemic

Concierge Joe DeLuca stands at the front desk of the apartment building where he works in New York, April 6, 2020. (AP/Matt Rourke)

Joe DeLuca's daily commute starts in the blue-collar enclave of Staten Island and ends at one of Manhattan's most exclusive addresses, a journey that takes him away from his wife and three school-age children at a time when tens of thousands of New Yorkers are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic

"I'm here, and I want to be here," said DeLuca, a night concierge at CitySpire, a luxury high-rise on West 56th Street. "I have one family at home and this is my second family. I love the people here, and I want to help the families as much as I can while still being safe."

CitySpire, where a one-bedroom apartment can cost well over $1 million, sits a stone's throw from Carnegie Hall and the famed Russian Tea Room restaurant, and three blocks from Central Park

He is up early, usually by 5:30 a.m., to help his three children get ready for school. With schools closed indefinitely that means helping them with their assignments until he is relieved at noon by his wife, Frances, a home health aide who works mornings and weekends.

Then it's a short walk to catch a bus into Manhattan. The trip can take an hour or more, but with traffic drastically reduced it now takes about half the time.

"I've got this mask on, I have my hand sanitizer, I've got my gloves on," he said. "I don't touch anything, I use my phone and watch a movie, keep my head down. I do what I have to do and that's it."

At work, the flow of foot traffic through the lobby has slowed to a trickle in the evenings but there are still deliveries for the building's 300-plus units. Boxes are taken outside and sprayed down with disinfectant, then set aside to dry. DeLuca notifies the recipient and sends the package up in an empty elevator to be picked up.

His shift ends at 11 and it's back on the bus to Staten Island for a shower and a bite to eat before hitting the pillow around 1. 

"You don't let it interfere with your job," DeLuca said of the fears surrounding the pandemic. "You just think positive, do your thing and let it roll. You can't stop your life."

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