This blog was originally posted on Public Health Insider.
Over the past few weeks many people have transitioned to telecommuting to comply with Governor Inslee’s Stay Home order to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Many others, who are essential workers, will continue to report to their jobs to ensure critical public health, safety and infrastructure functions continue to support Washingtonians. They are making sure that there is food, water, electricity, trash and sanitation services, buses & trains running, and health care services and spaces.
Being an essential worker during the COVID-19 pandemic means potentially exposing themselves and their families to COVID-19 while performing their job duties. Essential workers are having to deal with new stresses of adding social distancing measures to their jobs, shifting work hours, changing childcare needs with school closures among many other challenges, all while serving our King County community during this stressful time. Many of these jobs were hard and underappreciated to begin with, even before additional stresses and pressures of COVID-19.
We want to take a moment to thank all of the dedicated essential workers that are keeping King County safe and functioning. We see you. We appreciate you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
How can I support essential workers?
Join us in showing your love for essential workers, our community is in this together. Here are some ideas for how you can say thank you while staying safe:
Say Thank You
It may sound simple but saying thank you can go a long way to show support for our essential workers who are working in stressful situations every day. When you are making essential trips outside of the home, such as to the grocery store or pharmacy, say thank you to essential workers. Ask them how they are doing, be kind and express gratitude for their sacrifices and the work they are doing.
Need a project to keep the kids busy? Make signs thanking essential workers. Have kids (and adults too!) use any supplies you have at home such as paper, pencils or crayons to create a sign that expresses thanks for essential workers. Tape your signs to the window of your house or apartment, your car window, the garbage can or leave a thank you note in your mailbox.
Support their families
Show your support by helping the families of essential workers. Having a family member working on the frontlines can be a stressful time for the families of essential workers. Essential workers may also be working longer hours than normal leaving less time to care for their families. If you are able, consider cooking a meal for a family of an essential worker so they have less to worry about, pick up groceries when you make your own trip to the grocery store, order a meal from a local restaurant to be delivered to their house or pick up the phone to reach out to make sure they are ok.
Essential workers, including those in healthcare and adjacent settings such as childcare and housing services, may be in need of items and resources that can make their work environments safer and more efficient. The King County Regional Donations Connector is one avenue for sharing financial and other resources with organizations supporting essential workers and their families.
The best thing you can do to support essential workers is to stay safe at home. Staying home and avoiding all non-essential contact with others is the best way to stay healthy and keep others healthy, including essential workers who are out serving us every day.
Remember, if you must go out, stay at least six feet apart from others at all times. Protect essential workers by wearing a cloth mask while at the grocery store or other places where essential workers are doing their jobs. The primary benefit of cloth masks is not for the individual wearing the cloth mask, but for others. Wearing a cloth mask can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 including by those who do not realize they are infected.
Services and resources for essential workers:
- JUMP bike is offering 30-minute rides to essential workers during the stay-at-home order. Workplaces just need to email SeattleSupport@Jump.com to get ride codes that they can send out to employees.
Emergency Child Care
- The YMCA of Greater Seattle is transforming its King County branches into child care centers dedicated to serving the families of essential workers. For families interested in child care, email firstname.lastname@example.org for next steps.
- Select Boys & Girls Clubs of King County are offering youth care at various branches for a joining fee of $50. They are waiving the daily cost of $25 per person for essential workers until school districts reopen.
- City of Seattle’s Emergency Child Care program is also being rolled out to support essential workers. For more information, visit their webpage. Direct further inquiries on eligibility to ECC@seattle.gov.
Given widespread lay-offs, it is important to note that many people do not have the ability to work or serve on the frontlines, even if they want to.
United Way of King County has put together a list of resources for workers who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 outbreak. WorkSource has also put together a list of opportunities for people looking for immediate work.