Essential. Merriam-Webster defines essential as “of the utmost importance.” During this pandemic known as coronavirus, America is finding the true meaning of essential.

While many are self-quarantined or sheltered in their homes, there are just as many bending over backwards to make sure life goes on as normal as possible for as many as possible during this strange time.

At the Herald-Banner, we are doing our part by dropping the paywall on COVID-19 related stories as a public service to our readers. We want to keep you informed about what’s happening at the local, state and national level.

Essential are the newspapers, TV stations and radio stations still working in their field, keeping you informed about what is happening in our world.

Essential are the grocery store employees working around the clock to keep the shelves stocked, sanitizing the stores and manning checkout counters.

Essential are the truck drivers and workers in warehouses trying to get the items to the stores so they can be stocked.

Essential are the postal workers, delivery people and others delivering items to your home so you can stay safe and healthy.

Essential are restaurant employees whose jobs have shifted to helping prepare food, package it up for customers and deliver it.

Essential are the government employees trying to get unemployment checks to those laid off because of the closure or downsizing of their business.

Essential are our local elected officials, who are meeting almost daily to keep us safe and informed. They are learning as they go, just as we are with something so new.

Essential are the nursing home staff, who were ahead of the curve closing the doors to protect their elderly residents, those most vulnerable to this deadly disease.

Essential are the school employees, with everyone from teachers to lunch room workers doing their part to provide for their students in any way they can.

Perhaps at the top of the list of essential are the health care workers — doctors, nurses, EMTs, etc. — who are sacrificing their own health to protect those who have contracted COVID-19. Some cannot even go to their home in fear of exposing their families.

And not all essential workers are paid.

People are stepping up, volunteering their time to shop for elderly and disabled or provide food for school children and others in need.

It’s almost impossible to name every essential profession. If any have been omitted, it’s simply because there’s too many to name them all.

Some of these — even minimum wage employees — are not recognized as essential until a time like this, when we need them most.

So we challenge you to take a moment and thank them. Write a personal note, post about them on social media and, most of all, say thank you when you see them.

Be patient. Be nice. Be thankful. They’re just as stressed about what’s going on in the world as you are.


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