New York State has become the nation’s epicenter for the coronavirus, putting the lives of thousands of health care professionals — many of whom are NYSUT members — at risk.
Yet, day in and day out, there they remain on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19, selflessly putting themselves in harm’s way to care for our loved ones and us.
“We’re in a warlike situation, attempting to contain a dangerous disease,” said Anne Goldman, who oversees nurses as UFT vice president for non-Department of Education members.
That’s the way Goldman — who chairs NYSUT’s Health Care Professionals Council — described the situation a week ago in a conversation with a reporter for the union.
Since then, things have only grown much worse as the virus spreads. And making matters even more dire is that health care workers lack access to necessary personal protective equipment — including face masks and gloves — upping their risk of exposure.
As of Friday, more than 500 coronavirus-related deaths had been reported in New York State and the numbers continue to climb.. The number of health care professionals being infected also continues to increase, and some deaths among medical personnel are now being reported.
It goes without saying the depth of gratitude owed to our health care workers is bottomless. Still, it’s critical that as they serve as the nation’s vanguard against this deadly enemy that they know they have our support.
And that’s why NYSUT has launched a campaign to thank our Health Care Heroes and to let them know they are front-and-center in our thoughts.
The union is asking its members to send a note of thanks to our health care workers, using social media platforms and the hashtag #HealthCareHeroes. You can learn more about the campaign here: nysut.org/healthcareheroes.
For Lori Atkinson, a member of the Copenhagen Teachers Association, taking a moment to express her gratitude is not only appropriate, it’s personal.
“Two of my siblings are health care workers, (and) my brother is on the regional committee for infectious diseases,” said Atkinson, who teaches high school English. “I check in on them daily. They are tired. “
Saying thanks, she said, “is the least I can do.”