The Trauma of Being an Essential Worker

With an expected 100,000 to 500,000 deaths from COVID-19, America is experiencing the roll-out of death on an unprecedented scale not seen since the 1918 flu Pandemic.

The flu pandemic is largely erased from our collective memory resulting in many Americans reacting slowly to stay at home and social isolation orders that are proven to lessen the impact and the deaths of COVID-19.

And in the middle of this latest historical pandemic, the “president” has decided not to reopen Obamacare (ACA), because he has “decided” that Americans don’t need emergency healthcare in the worst pandemic in over a hundred years.

But he is okay with republicans taking advantage of classified intelligence briefings to cash out stock and/or buy stock in companies that will see growth and sales due to the pandemic.

Many Americans are also flaunting the danger of the virus by hosting “COVID-19 parties“, swamping beaches, outdoor spaces, and churches in that unique American exceptionalism display of ignorance, misguided religious instructions, and fealty to an ignorant leader who embodies the worst attributes of any current world leader.

The “president” is given prime time coverage to spew lies, half-truths, fake science, and magical thinking while he berates reporters, accuses hospital workers of stealing equipment, and tells states they need to appreciate him.

Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients and under-supplied with equipment – Personal Protection Equipment – PPE’s – as they suffer from the malpractice of a government who saw fit to give China 17 tons of PPE’s in January at the same time the “president” denied COVID-19 even existed.

 

“We don’t send soldiers to fight a war without weapons.

Give doctors what they need to fight COVID-19.”

What’s worse, it was reported on March 31 that American companies were selling PPE’s to European and other countries around the world – at the same time that thousands of Americans lay dying and healthcare workers are using garbage bags as PPE’s.

The spreading pandemic, the incompetent leadership, and the social isolation orders touch every facet of American life. Americans are surviving on the backs of workers who just a few weeks ago were largely underpaid, invisible, and taken for granted in a country that worships the wealthy, caters to the middle class, and disregards everyone else.

Americans are learning that celebrities, athletes, influencers, and champions of industry are all emperors with no clothes.

And while millions of Americans are working from home and sharing their work-at-home experiences with kids, pets, spouses, and technology struggles with ZOOM and other apps, front line workers are still going to work so that they can cater to their more well-off neighbors.

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The important backbone of American solvency remain in the hands – and on the backs- of tens of millions of laborers across a wide swath of industries:

Teachers, truckers, grocery workers, food chain workers starting with in the field workers – many who are not citizens – nurses, medical technicians, call center staff, restaurant workers, gig economy drivers, senior community caregivers, and nurses and hospital staff workers.

Most of the workers now deemed “Essential workers” are working for Americans who need their services more than ever.

While we are thanking the essential workers I believe we should be forming plans of actions right now to address the coming expressions of trauma these workers will begin experiencing.

From therapy to counseling and to financial, our debt to the essential workers will need to be immediate, comprehensive, and long-lasting.

Thank you’s are good but tangible help is better.

 

“The important backbone of American solvency remain in the hands – and on the backs- of tens of millions of laborers across a wide swath of industries.”

 

We need to consider the trauma of what front line workers are experiencing.

We are calling the fight against the pandemic a “war” and the front line workers “soldiers” which acknowledges the state we are in.

If we take the analogy to the logical outcome, our pandemic soldiers are surviving right now and we can expect to see their trauma later, after the pandemic has subsided.

What might that trauma look like?

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We can expect to see depression, anxiety,  substance abuse and self-medicating, divorce, and partner abuse.  At work we can expect to see lower productivity, uneven job performance, short tempers, lashing out, and more and worse across all industries.

Many of our pandemic soldiers are underpaid, have little to no healthcare, little in life savings and financial security, and often work multiple jobs. Some of the pandemic soldiers will receive stimulus money, though many will not due to their low pay – this is another tax and penalty for being poor.

 

“Those who need the most help will get the least.”

 

While we are gearing up for a long summer of death and isolation, job losses, and potential rationing of supplies, we need to think about those workers who are holding the stretching seems of civility of a country on the edge.

We can’t go back to ignoring the so-called least of us, when in fact they have proven they are the most important of us.

If America is to survive and thrive post-pandemic it will not be because of an “indifferent and panicking president” and his team of liars and nincompoops.

America will survive and thrive because an army of dedicated foot soldiers marched into battle every day and every night and fought and defeated a global pandemic while simultaneously reassuring three-hundred million neighbors that a return to normalcy is possible when it is in the hands of the true celebrities of our society.

© 2020 by Myron J. Clifton. All Rights Reserved.

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