As we wind down to the end of 2020—a year many will want to soon forget, let’s take a moment to remember and appreciate all of the individuals who are spending the end of this year and holiday season on the front lines. I speak not only of the doctors, nurses and other brave healthcare professionals who have worked tirelessly all year long, but also of the everyday essential worker. I speak of those who have shown up each and every day throughout this pandemic working to provide, protect and care for our communities. Specifically I want to acknowledge and show my gratitude toward the USPS—a group of 640,000 postal employees that have worked all year long to provide an essential service under the very toughest of circumstances.
The USPS plays a fundamental role in our economy, our society and our health care system and now, as we enter what experts believe is the very darkest phase of this pandemic, the U.S. Postal Service is more important than ever. The institution enables us to connect with loved ones, to support small businesses, to maintain our supply chains, to receive essential health services (prescriptions, home test kits) and to correspond with our government, whether we are partaking in the very first national vote-by-mail initiative or receiving our stimulus check or tax returns. Not only have our USPS carriers and USPS facility workers continued to put their own health on the line every day to maintain this essential service but they’ve protected us in a time of great uncertainty. This is all while being undercut and underfunded, overworked and, dare I say, remarkably under appreciated.
I am writing on behalf of two USPS employees who I know have been personally affected by COVID-19. These two individuals have put themselves on the front lines without hesitation, without pause and with an attitude of selfless dedication that has blown me away day after day of this catastrophic year. My brother-in-law is a USPS clerk and was exposed to the virus while at work just two weeks before his branch received the vaccine. He tested positive a few days before Christmas and his partner has since tested positive as well. Days later I received a text from our USPS mail carrier letting us know she too had tested positive just a few days after Christmas. Considering the current surge conditions in Los Angeles, in addition to their shared vulnerability as front line workers, the timing of these positive tests comes as no surprise. This is no consolation. Their experience is like so so so many others. And still their circumstances and consequent illnesses could have possibly been avoided were our communities truly and in all earnesty doing everything they could to prevent transmission by wearing masks, staying home as much as possible and socially distancing. So on behalf of these two individuals and on behalf of all the essential workers and first responders we owe our utmost gratitude toward, I am asking unabashedly for those of us not called to front line duty to do our part.
Now is the time to step up as a community and protect these individuals. It’s time to put aside our own pandemic frustrations and exhaustion and honor the sacrifices they have made all year long. It is the time to reduce their burden and limit the spread of this disease by increasing our resolve—staying as isolated as we are able, wearing the proper PPE, limiting our interactions outside our own households and maintaining appropriate distances from people when we are out and about.
Call it a new year’s resolution, call it the proper thing to do, call it your civic duty or call it simply your own personal desire to take care of yourself, your family, your neighbors, your friends.
Call it whatever you like but please. please. please. please follow through.
Because now is the time to work as hard as you can as an individual to protect and honor the community at large.
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