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Essential workers deserve our respect, gratitude

From nurses to grocery store clerks, they are there for the rest of us

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been people working every day, at risk to their health and perhaps even their lives, to make sure the rest of us can enjoy a life that is nearly as normal as possible.

Collectively, they are called essential workers, and they have been on the job, out and about while their neighbors worked from home or sheltered in place because their job was impacted by the pandemic.

It’s obvious who some of these essential workers are. Start with the police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel. Their jobs are dangerous as is. Now they have to deal with the possibility of contracting a potentially deadly virus on the job.

Then there are the health care workers. They have been caring for the people afflicted by the virus plus all of the other usual injuries and illnesses. The roster of vital health care workers isn’t limited to doctors and nurses. There are all kinds other professionals, such as lab techs and therapists. The housekeepers and maintenance workers who keep the hospitals and medical office buildings in good shape play a critical role as well.

There is a group of health care workers who deserve special mention. They are the nurses and other staff members caring for our parents and grandparents in longterm care facilities. Because older folks are so vulnerable to COVID-19, those facilities have been closed to visitors. The people that live there may well feel like they have been locked up in solitary confinement. Because of that situation, the staff members have become even more important in the lives of nursing home residents.

Just about anyone who delivers anything is an essential worker. The group includes the carrier who brought you this newspaper, plus United States Postal Service employees, drivers for various delivery companies, truckers and even railroad workers.

Food and medicine are always vital, and the people who keep the shelves stocked with those items are unheralded essential workers.

There are probably dozens and dozens of other essential workers toiling away during the pandemic. They all deserve our gratitude.

The next time you see a health care worker, a delivery driver or any other essential worker, take a minute to say thank you.

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