The essential community workers that we see every day have become our lifelines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They are our heroes. Possibly those working in supermarkets and other large retail corporations are the only other people we might talk to in person all day or all week. Their jobs have grown to include smiling while politely assisting and defraying the island’s tensions. Now among the island’s most crucial personnel, retail workers as well as other everyday essential workers, are exposed to new dangers. For example, cleaning of stores and check-out stands has ramped up. Store hours have changed to protect workers and customers, including additional hours for seniors to shop, increased closure hours for deep cleaning each night, and more.
One supermarket store manager said, “In emergencies like this, we hear a lot about the first responders and those on the front lines. That’s important, and in this case doctors, nurses, firefighters, and everyone else working in that realm of healthcare deserve much honor. But what about the people working in the supermarkets, restaurants, and elsewhere — those handling the pandemonium — with our mad dash for most everything on the shelves?”
Upcountry resident Taryn Feliciano agreed, “From the cashiers, to the meat and fish department workers, and those stocking the shelves, they are all brave souls along with anybody else working in the public while most people stay at home. From replenishing supplies to answering questions, the calm that they exhibit every day in the supermarkets and other open establishments is reflected in the island shoppers, who on the whole remain pretty neighborly.”
Grocery workers, in particular, have also become the front- line during the health crisis─ interacting with potentially hundreds of people every day. They are risking infection every time they come within a few feet of a customer. Of all essential employees, along with the medical profession, the ones who bag groceries at the store, handle cash, give directions to needed products, and restock shelves all day long, are the ones with the most contact. These positions now assume increased risk for these service providers. Still, they remain steadfastly committed to the vital service they are providing to each of us.
Thanks to all those in our community who are continuously providing help and services to everyone.