New York City, and perhaps the nation, seem to be past the coronavirus peak. But even as America looks at how to move forward, let’s all keep in mind how much suffering continues and how many exhausted front-line workers still face enormous risk.
The virus has taken the lives of hundreds of nurses, doctors and other medical staff, and plenty of cops and MTA workers, too. Yet their colleagues keep on heading in to work to keep things going. Most shortages of protective gear may be over, but for weeks these people soldiered on despite maddening hazards from those shortfalls.
The stress of the crisis extended to places you’d never think of: As Reuters reports, funeral-home workers find themselves having to turn away people simply trying to bury a loved one.
“We’re being told that we’re heroes for being on the front lines of this but I feel like I’m failing families every day,” says Lily Sage Weinrieb, a mortician at The International Funeral & Cremation Service in Harlem. “You want a burial and you already have a plot and everything? Sorry, no. We don’t have any room.”
This is agony, for all concerned — and it won’t be over for weeks more, even as hospital and ICU admissions drop further and the daily death toll continues to decrease.
“Better” still isn’t “good”: Medical staff remain separated from their loved ones for fear of infecting them, still watch each other for signs a colleague caught the COVID-19 bug — and stay on the job despite the toll from weeks of struggle.
All of us isolating from the virus are also distanced from the madness these people have faced for weeks now, and still face even if things are eased a bit.
Take a break from the debates over how lockdowns should end, all the blame games and all the other discussions, and say a prayer for the health-care workers whose battles continue. The light at the end of their tunnel is still painfully far off.
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