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As the novel coronavirus continues to ravage populations around the world, with more than 1.9 million cases confirmed, millions of people are self-quarantining at home in a global effort to check the virus' spread. Still, a rare breed of people selflessly go about their daily lives, offering aid to those infected and helping maintain a sense of order while the rest of us shelter in place.
Google is honoring those heroes with a series of appreciation doodles. On Wednesday, Google focused its spotlight on those who package, ship and deliver goods we need. Consumer demand for goods purchased online has spiked during the crisis.
Shoppers now rely even more on e-commerce companies like Amazon to deliver food, toiletries and other staples while they're asked to stay home. Any interruption in the workflow could reduce or delay shipments.The workers are also placing their own health at risk as recent studies have shown that the coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours.
For that dedication, Google says thank you.
The tech giant frequently livens up its bare-bones search page with artwork that draws attention to notable people, events, holidays and anniversaries. Google has also used its doodles to remind us of lesser-known real-world heroes, ones who have long since left this world. Then there are the people who are out there doing good things right now who we can thank right now.
The series has already offered thanks to medical personnel, emergency workers, scientists, custodians, farmers, grocery store employees and public transportation drivers.
On Tuesday, Google saluted the men and women who keep public transit moving. Even though we're being advised to stay at home as much as possible, some people need get to essential jobs and make other necessary trips, such as going to doctor appointments and grocery shopping. And for many people without cars of their own, these essential trips wouldn't be possible without transportation systems and the drivers that keep them moving.
Bus and train operators put their health at risk by continuing to go into work each day so that people without access to their own vehicle can still get around. You can help make their jobs just a little bit easier by observing the rules of social distancing while on public transportation and waiting in line to get on — and every where else, for that matter. Also, practice good hygiene.
On Monday, Google saluted grocery store employees. Despite shelter in place orders, we still need to buy food and other necessary items. Grocery store shelves are replenished and purchases are rung up by employees whose jobs place them at greater risk of exposure to the virus.
Several grocery store workers have tested positive for coronavirus and some have died from COVID-19. Two employees at a Chicago-area Walmart have died from the disease, prompting the retailer to install sneeze guards at registers and limit the number of customers in stores.
On Friday, Google honored agricultural workers, who keep the food flowing to the marketplace. Their work makes them especially vulnerable to the virus. Often they're immigrants living in the US without legal permission. Field workers have been deemed by the federal government to be an "essential" part of the country's food supply who have a "special responsibility to maintain [their] normal work schedule."
They continue to work despite conditions that don't allow them to shelter in place or self-quarantine. Their working and living conditions don't allow for much social distancing and these brave souls often work without the promise of paid sick leave. But still they work, helping put food on our table.
On Thursday, Google honored America's 4.4 million janitors and domestic workers who scrub down surfaces in hospitals and other medical institutions where pathogens might live because, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, "current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials."
The CDC says the best way to combat this is "cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection." Accustomed to handling corrosive chemicals and lifting heavy objects, these workers are now potentially coming into contact with the deadly coronavirus. Yet, they continue to do their jobs, despite often lacking training and equipment to adequately protect themselves from the virus.
Wednesday's doodle honored the firefighters and police officers who go out every day, responding to emergency situations and rendering aid. To do their jobs, officers and firefighters frequently come in very close contact with other people, some of whom might be infected with coronavirus. Yet they still show up for work, day after day.
In New York City, the US epicenter of the outbreak, more than 1,000 police officers and 280 members of the fire department have tested positive.
Tuesday's doodle in the series honored the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel who are working long hours, under emotionally and physically stressful conditions, often with inadequate protection. These selfless people have to balance their work with the risk posed to their personal health and to the safety of their loved ones. While many of us shelter in place, they're making a conscious decision to expose themselves to patients suffering from COVID-19.
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They have lives just like everyone else, including family that many now have to avoid for safety's sake, to prevent the possibility of spreading the virus. Doctors who sleep in the garage when their shift is over to avoid contact with their spouse and children. Nurses who worry about the care their elderly parents are receiving because they haven't seen them for weeks.
They have lives they're putting at risk to care for the rest of us.
The first doodle, which arrived with the series' debut on April 6, was dedicated to public health workers and scientific researchers. They're working hard to mitigate extensive transmission in the community.
Developing a new vaccine takes time and the preparations must be rigorously tested and confirmed safe via clinical trials before they can be routinely used in humans. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, has frequently said that a coronavirus vaccine is at least a year to 18 months away.
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