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This Week’s LION: “Essential” Workers

There are many subplots to this Coronavirus Crisis. One is the continual emergence of the Law of Unintended Consequences. An example of this was Governor Wolf’s mandate that PennDOT temporarily close its 30 rest areas statewide on March 17 due to coronavirus mitigation efforts. However, this was quickly lifted because those Harrisburg bureaucrats who determined how important this measure was had obviously never been a long-distance hauler. The trucker making the many hour journey to deliver that priceless cargo of toilet paper to the grocery store near you is going to need to relieve himself/herself sometime along the way.

COVID-19 does not discriminate. It does not care how big the name is. Hollywood celebrities like Tom Hanks (“my name is Forrest, Forrest Gump”), Olga Kurylenko (a James Bond girl), Daniel Day Kim (Hawaii Five-O actor), as well as a number of others in that profession have all tested positive with the virus. Moguls such as Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music has been hospitalized with the disease. NBA athletes seemed to be getting hit harder than other professional athletes, such as NBA star Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets), Rudy Gobet & Donavan Mitchell (both of Utah Jazz), and Christian Wood (Detroit Pistons) who have all confirmed they have tested positive. Dignitaries are not immune either, with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie, Prince Charles, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and opera star Placido Domingo all testing positive for coronavirus as well.

These are the type of people who make headlines, they are the people who seem to matter more than others. But another subplot of this saga is that it seems that these people are not quite as important and significant as their media footprint would make them appear in a time of a crisis like this. For example, would it be enjoyable watching Kevin Durant draining a 3-pointer from the top of the key if you were sitting in a cold house because the gas or oil company is short on delivery drivers? Would you miss a Sophie Trudeau talk on gender equality and women’s rights as much as you would miss a good plumber when your toilet backs up?

For some time now, there is a tradition of recognizing a military veteran by some apparel they are wearing and thanking them for their service. I no longer say that. I prefer to tell a veteran, “Thank you defending our freedom.” I reserve the phrase of thanking for service for the policeman, the EMT, the nursing home worker, and others like them. Yes, the professors at our local colleges serve a valuable purpose, but with all those degrees, they are not as valuable in the present situation as much as electricians, truck drivers, farmers, garbage collectors, and the folks that stock the shelves and work the cash registers in the local supermarket, convenience or drug stores.

We need to thank those who are on the front lines of the disease; the pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and med techs. We need to be willing to help those who are caring for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons. I personally know pastors who are working harder than ever right now, contacting their parishioners and coordinating efforts to insure that those who are lonely have someone to talk to, those who are overwhelmed have someone willing to lend a hand, those who are afraid have someone willing to pray for them.

And speaking of prayer, remember people like Mayor Derek Slaughter, who has barely been able to get his administration off the ground then he has had to face the enormous challenge of keeping the city of Williamsport running safe and sound as possible. Remember also Williamsport Police Chief Damon Hagan who was appointed the city’s Director of Public Safety almost as soon as this crisis hit high gear. The same is true for the new Lycoming County Director of Public Safety, Jeffrey Hutchins, who replaced the 30-year veteran John Yingling. Hagan and Hutchins have been thrown into a crisis that is like getting promoted to be a lead officer in charge of landing troops at Normandy on D-Day. Keep that in mind before criticizing or second guessing their decisions and actions.

Here is to all the truly essential people. They are our heroes of hope.

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