Though Covid-19 is not over, it appears its worst effects have passed. There is still so much to understand about this time. What should we have done differently? How can we plan for this sort of thing in the future? But one of our first goals should be to identify which professions were on the Covid-19 front lines, so that we can offer them the admiration they deserve.
When historians sit down to write the history of the Covid-19 pandemic, they will no doubt spend a great deal of time focusing on where so much of the drama took place: hospitals. We will never forget the images of hospitals overrun by new patients, nurses, and doctors crying from exhaustion, and rows and rows of beds connected to ventilators.
Nurses and doctors deserve all the credit in the world for weathering this storm for putting their own lives at risk when we needed them most. But we must not forget that hospitals are more than just doctors and nurses. There are orderlies and custodians, kitchen staffers, and technicians; during the Covid-19 pandemic, anyone who walked into a hospital was at risk. Their willingness to fight on should be an inspiration to us all.
This pandemic proved to the world what schoolteachers already know. Their service fuels an essential component of our society. Teachers do not only provide kids a place to go when their parents are at work, but they also provide a role model, support, and a voice of compassionate intelligence during a very difficult time.
When students moved to online learning, we saw teachers adapt; when schools wanted to reopen prematurely, we saw teachers push back. And when schools returned to in-person instruction, we saw teachers risk their own lives for the betterment of their students. Though every person owes a debt to their schoolteachers, the elementary students of 2020 have a larger one than most.
Waste Management Workers
Those that are not fully educated on which professions were on the Covid-19 front lines may be surprised to see waste management workers on this list. For a time when the news was so focused on hospitals, schools, and, of course, politicians, many of us did not have time to think of how Covid-19 might impact waste management workers.
However, Covid-19 saw an alarming growth in medical waste. Personal protection equipment, like masks, piled up in people’s garbage bags, public trash bins, and even on the streets. The brave men and women who work in waste management had to take more precautions as they exposed themselves to possible pathogens during work.
In the early days of the lockdown, before people truly understood the level of danger the world had succumbed to, we still needed to eat. Supermarkets continued to operate, and their employees put their health in jeopardy to sustain their communities. Especially because their work is so non-glamorous and often overlooked, supermarket employees deserve our admiration for their sacrifice.