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The underrepresented “heroes” of COVID-19 deserve praise

The underrepresented “heroes” of COVID-19 deserve praise

The underrepresented “heroes” of COVID-19 deserve praise
April 17
08:15 2020

As the coronavirus continues to plague the world, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are at the front lines fighting the battle to end the deadly virus. I recognize that medical experts play a crucial role in our response to the coronavirus, however, I feel we should also be paying thanks to the millions of essential workers that still operate despite the risk of catching this virus. It is important we praise the underrepresented heroes of this pandemic which are janitors, delivery workers, garbage collectors, public transportation workers and grocery store workers, along with a litany of others.

While many other businesses in America have transitioned to online operations, grocery stores, public transportation, delivery businesses and custodial jobs still continue to run. Essential workers continue to go to work every day even though they are putting themselves and their families at risk of falling victim to the coronavirus.

In medical care buildings, non-clinical staffers such as custodians and janitors risk contracting the virus in order to make it possible for these doctors and nurses to keep fighting against the virus in the cleanest environments. They work to ensure hallways, bathrooms and even patient rooms are clean as well as report any mechanical or technical issues. The jobs of hospital maintenance workers and housekeepers seem to go unnoticed and despite their low pay, their roles are vital in keeping hospitals running during this pandemic. Though they are made to continue working, they are not being trained on how to properly protect themselves against the virus. A lack of communication with hospital custodians and housekeepers is putting them in danger by carelessly exposing them to coronavirus patients without any personal protective equipment.

Delivery workers are also pushing through as they continue to work during this pandemic. With millions of stores and restaurants coming to a halt with in-person operations, many delivery drivers and warehouse workers have no choice but to keep working through their fears of contracting the virus. These drivers and package handlers work endlessly to deliver food, clothing and even medication to the rest of Americans who have taken the precautionary measures of staying at home.

Sanitation workers such as garbage collectors are facing horror cases in dealing with the waste that Americans nationwide are leaving for them to get rid of. The amount of residential garbage is expected to increase by about 30 percent due to the coronavirus, according to the waste management company, Republic Services. Without garbage collectors, much of America would turn into a wasteland. Despite the obvious need for these sanitation workers, they are not provided the proper materials in regard to their safety.

Public transportation workers such as bus drivers are also at the invisible forefront of the coronavirus. Matt Monaghan told The Guardian that several of his colleagues have been hospitalized with the virus. He fears for his life but continues to work anyway. “It’s tough times right now but we’re doing the job and moving the city,” he said.

A grocery store clerk lost her life to the coronavirus because she was keeping other people in mind as she continued working at grocery store Giant Food despite the pandemic. Zenobia Shepherd, the mother of 27-year-old Leilani Jordan who lost her life, told MSNBC her daughter had informed her Giant Food was understaffed and despite fears of the virus, was not providing employees with gloves and other protective gear. It is imperative employers begin taking the safety of their employees seriously in order to prevent the loss of innocent lives who are still working despite the rise of the coronavirus.

Although we must not forget the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who are risking their lives to fight the coronavirus, it is also imperative we recognize the essential workers who are doing the same. These workers show up to their jobs every day to keep America running. Even though they deserve special hazard pay and more, the least we can do is praise these underrepresented heroes for their critical roles in this crisis.

Featured Illustration: Jae-Eun Suh

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Michelle Monari

Michelle Monari

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