A photo shared to Reddit is shining a light on often forgotten coronavirus frontline workers, prompting hundreds of touching and heartwarming comments.
While doctors, nurses and trained medical staff are undoubtedly the soldiers fighting directly in the trenches of the coronavirus pandemic, often forgotten are the cleaners who put their lives at risk to disinfect spaces, making them safe for others to use.
One Reddit user decided to remind everyone that those cleaning out the rooms of coronavirus patients in hospitals and disinfecting known public hotspots are essential workers of some of the highest order.
Sharing a snap of one such worker, the post gave people a timely reminder that they too put themselves at risk to keep the rest of us safe.
“Reddit, meet a person who cleans out COVID rooms,” the post read. “They too put their lives on the line.”
The confronting image snapped in the US shows a worker clad head to toe in PPE (personal protective equipment).
Across his face is a face mask, over his head is a plastic hooded face shield and a blue surgical gown is kept firmly around his wrists with a pair of purple medical gloves.
With a belt holding the billowy gown in place it’s hard to imagine walking, let alone cleaning in the restrictive get-up used by hospital personnel, many working shifts of eight to ten hours.
It’s a point that was highlighted in July by a furious Victorian nurse who slammed civilians complaining about the enforcement of face masks, pointing out those on the frontline have been sporting the masks for eight to ten hours a day for months.
Thousands thank ‘mostly unsung heroes’
The latest post saw over one thousand people come forward to share their messages of thanks and admiration for the lesser-known heroes working behind the scenes.
“As an RN [registered nurse], I have an insane amount of respect for my environmental teammates!” one healthcare worker wrote. “These ladies and gentlemen are simply the best! Always take care of those who take care of you!”
“Hats off to these mostly unsung heroes,” another agreed.
Others had to admire their ability to work in the aforementioned restrictive gear.
“Seriously though. I've worked housekeeping at a nursing home and I couldn't imagine doing it covered head to toe in protective gear for eight hours or longer a day,” one person admitted. “I honestly don't think I could do it. They deserve a lot of credit and praise because it must be so difficult to do.”
“While not everyone will appreciate those who do these jobs (they should) or any front line jobs, for what it’s worth I do,” another person wrote. “Thank you! Stay Safe.”
Another US healthcare worker came forward to thank their cleaning team as well and lifted the lid of a tragic reality for many American hospital workers.
“Environmental/EVS workers don't get recognized nearly enough,” the person wrote. “In the hospital where I work, they were also the ones disproportionately affected most by COVID.”
The worker explained that when the pandemic first broke out, the limited PPE gear was rationed and cleaners deprioritised.
“The thinking was that because they weren't directly patient-facing, they were not as high of a priority for PPE ration,” the worker explained. “Fast forward to a few months later, and they were among the most highly affected employees.”
“These same people are also among the lowest-paid workers at the hospital.
“Yet day in and day out, there they were doing their job and instrumental in reducing the spread of the disease in all areas of the hospital among patients and caregivers.”
Healthcare workers have been on the frontline of the pandemic since it began sweeping the globe earlier this year, with many making the ultimate sacrifice in the fight against the illness.
One such worker was Celia Marcos, a US nurse who died after rushing to save coronavirus patient's life and becoming infected herself.
Three days later Ms Marcos began feeling unwell and on April 15 she was admitted to the very same hospital she worked at for over 16 years.
She passed away on April 17 after testing positive for COVID-19.