The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down much of the world, leaving people hunkered down in their homes without many recreational opportunities and starved for social contacts.
Many people have begun working from home, creating a new reality for their families. For others, that is not possible. Sick people still must be cared for, essential workers still need to get to work, grocery stores still need to be stocked and staffed. These are the stories of a few of these people who were once nearly invisible to most people but now have become pandemic heroes.
Deedee is a strange kind of hero who has been on the job for 30 years. She has been reporting to her job in the morning and returning to her family at night.
She is a telecommunications supervisor. In the Philippines, where she lives, family is the most important thing to a person outside of their faith. All that changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The World Health Organization says the case data for that region shows nearly 300,000 have the disease, and 5,000 have died. Suddenly people were confined in their homes, relying on their computers and phones for information, entertainment, and access to their offices allowing them to work from home.
Technology malfunctions that once were annoying became emergencies, or at least they seemed so. That’s where Deedee’s department came in. They are customer service people who usually deal with frustrated users but suddenly faced panicked and angry callers.
Deedee made the hard decision to stay closer to her work to handle the increased volume of calls and the problems that arose. It was a sacrifice for her and her family. We know what it feels like to suddenly be isolated from friends. But the isolation and lack of immediate support for Deedee was hard to bear.
An article in the Business Inquirer quotes this dedicated young hero this way. “I believe that everything will pass. We are uncertain with the COVID-19 virus, but our faith is strong.”
Desha’s husband James was deemed an essential worker. He was a Detroit bus driver who was a hero in his own right. You might never consider his wife in the same category, but this story is about her.
James drove his route every day so that healthcare, grocery, and other essential personnel could get to work. This put James at risk, but it also affected Desha. Some passengers rode his bus who were coughing and obviously sick. After exposure to one such passenger,
James developed symptoms and died within a few weeks, leaving his wife and family to grieve.
Desha rose above her grief. She became a spokesperson for Corona Virus precautions and common-sense things like wearing masks, social distancing and staying home when you feel sick. It isn’t easy to speak out on the subject. Some people seem to see the restrictions as an infringement on their rights. While we celebrate Desha in this story, we recognize that she represents the families of essential workers who report to their jobs every day and are heroes themselves for the sacrifices they make and the fears they face.
As Desha said, in an interview with ABC News, “ Don’t let my husband’s death be in vain.”
In New York City, according to an article in the Northwestern University newsletter, about 14 out of 1,000 COVID deaths were nursing home residents. In some areas, the percentage is greater.
Once the virus invades a long-term care facility, the weakened status of the elderly residents makes them vulnerable to the disease.
Healthcare workers like CNA Kenya Blackburn face this reality every day. Not only do the residents have a higher chance of dying. They are also often isolated from their families, and they would suffer alone if not for heroes like Kenya.
She says it is depressing. Still, she shows up every day to don the protective gear and walk the halls of the “COVID-wing.” Many other workers at her facility are frightened and don’t report for shifts, so they are short-staffed, and Kenya works long back-and-heart-breaking hours.
Afterward, she arrives home dead-tired and goes directly to the laundry room to change into clean clothing, and immediately drops her uniform into the washer. She is afraid, too. She has two children, a grandchild and a mother to consider. She doesn’t want to bring COVID-19 home to them.
These are only a few of the stories of Corona Virus heroes. You probably know others who put others—who put us—first.
Before COVID-19, they may have been invisible. We need to make certain they don’t drop out of sight again when this pandemic is over.