Roughly 21 months ago, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that Washington state would effectively shut down in an attempt to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The first case found in the United States had appeared in Snohomish County, and it would be nearly a year before the lifesaving vaccines would become widely available.
Thousands of workers who would otherwise have gone into their offices began working from home, if they were lucky. Others lost their jobs altogether as the world economy ground to a halt.
But others — the “essential workers” — kept showing up day after day. Medical professionals, grocery store workers, educators, janitors, first responders, homeless service providers and even media were classified as too big to fail… to go to work. Even as the disease ravaged major cities and killed thousands of people, workers in food production facilities continued to keep the supply of groceries flowing despite the inherent risks of their jobs.
In the beginning, our society celebrated these workers, posting videos of jubilant crowds banging pots and pans in their honor. But as the world has lurched toward a new equilibrium, aided by the availability of vaccines and now boosters, those frontline workers have continued to show up. In Washington state alone, that was nearly 2.5 million people. Real Change, in partnership with the artistic folks at Amplifier, is honored to feature a few of their stories.
Read about Real Change vendor Vernon Cormier here.
Read about teacher Hannah Graether here.
Read about custodial engineer Leonard Orellana here.
Read more of the Dec. 15-21, 2021 issue.