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While we are safely indoors moping around and complaining about how bored we are, there are people out there who still need to go to work even amidst this unprecedented crisis. These are the people whose jobs are so essential we won’t survive or have any semblance of normalcy without them. They deserve our appreciation.
Aside from the nurses and doctors waging this war in emergency rooms across the globe, there are front line warriors in our shops, handling our packages, and delivery the spoils of our supply chain. Those who are holding society together as the world trudges through this pandemic. This also includes those people whose jobs allow nurses and doctors to perform theirs properly and efficiently.
1. Grocery Store Workers
Grocery store workers are among the many low wage workers whose jobs are now deemed essential during this crisis. They make sure shelves are stocked, counters are sanitized, and people get all the essentials they need while in self-isolation at home. They work many hours on these new front lines, forced to be with crowds of people who flock to grocery stores to get food and other essentials. Every day they fear bringing home this virus to their families back home.
They understand that the threat is real for grocery store workers. The point was driven home after a man in his 40s, who worked at an Oshawa Real Canadian Superstore, died in late March. Despite the fear, many continue to risk their lives to keep stores functioning throughout the crisis. We would not be able to keep essential items moving, and families supplied with basics such as food if they don't go to work.
2. Delivery Drivers
Be it a food delivery driver, your Amazon guy who bring goods and essentials to your doorstep, or a truck driver and their fleet of logistics personnel who keep products moving from warehouses to grocery stores, these are all front liners who continue to work despite the threat of the virus.
Remember them when you read about emergency supplies and equipment getting hauled and brought to hospitals around the country, when you see boxes of products ready to be placed onto shelves in supermarkets, or when you order your next meal because people who make these things possible. Hopefully, we will remember how drivers and logistics workers helped keep this country afloat and the economy moving during this crisis.
When we think about these orders to stay home and the hefty fines for those who don’t follow the new rules we often forget who’s enforcing them. Police are still patrolling the streets. Ever since the call to stay home has been rolled out, police officers have been making sure people follow orders, and establishments, save for the essential ones, stay closed. They are also are scared of the invisible enemy, one they can too easily bring home to their families.
In Vancouver, seven police officers tested positive for COVID-19, and hundreds of other officers throughout Canada are in self-isolation because of possible exposure to the virus. While this virus is taking many officers off the streets, the rest are still out there patrolling the communities.
4. Sanitation Workers
According to recent research, the virus can survive on surfaces for hours—up to 24 hours on cardboard and 72 hours on plastic or steel. Experts advise people to remove all packaging of grocery items before bringing them indoors. Sanitation workers are tasked with getting rid of all this potentially contaminated waste.
Armed with their gloves, soap, and scrub they along with other minimum wage earners are still out there fighting this war. Because they don’t want to risk losing their jobs they continue to go to work and spend hours wiping away the virus and emptying the trash. The coronavirus is magnifying the risk that these workers are exposed to daily—handling infectious waste materials, getting exposed to toxic fumes, and handling poisonous chemicals. Although this time they are tasked with cleaning up a virus so contagious it has infected over a million people and killed thousands across the globe.
5. Laboratory professionals
Another group of people who have been placed in the frontlines and are now risking themselves daily by performing their jobs are laboratory technicians. They are one of the unseen warriors fighting the coronavirus inside laboratories. These medical technologists and laboratory personnel like the rest in this list don’t have the luxury of working from home.
These are the people who are processing coronavirus tests. They support other patient-facing personnel like doctors and nurses in hospitals. A doctor’s course of treatment and care will depend on lab results that this personnel prepare. And it’s the job of these professionals to keep up with the wave of patients who need to be tested.
6. Respiratory Therapists
Along with the doctors and nurses caring for coronavirus patients are the respiratory therapists. Little was known about them or how important their tasks are in the hospital until this pandemic hit. Now everyone is scrambling to get ventilators that only professionals like them have the expertise to manage.
Respiratory therapists also track a patient’s oxygen levels and work with doctors to determine treatments. It takes years of study, a lot of experience, and skills to advise a physician about the best course of action—should they provide supplemental oxygen through a nasal cannula or is there a need to intubate?
Since they could be doing the intubations too and are often working in close proximity to infected patients, respiratory therapists are among those who are particularly at risk of contracting the virus. They work long hours alongside doctors and nurses fighting the virus in the frontlines.
These are the people who are keeping our country functioning right now and without them, we will not stand a chance against the coronavirus.