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Josh Bergeron: Salute to the service of essential workers, businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdowns it has caused should bring an increased appreciation for businesses and people that are often taken for granted.

Without truck drivers, store shelves would be much more barren. Without cleaning crews to disinfect homes and businesses, it’s hard to provide customers with the reassurance that it’s OK to “reopen” the economy. Local restaurants continue to feed the community in new ways, including some who’ve created a delivery service. And while larger stores like Food Lion and Walmart remain busy, local landmarks like McLaughlin’s Grocery in Salisbury’s West End are just as critical in feeding the community.

Those are just four of the many stories you’ll find in a special section included with today’s Salisbury Post that we’re calling “Salute to Service.” Sister newspapers — the Salisbury Post, Stanly News and Press, Davie County Enterprise-Record and Clemmons Courier — have collaborated to tell the stories of just several of the many people and businesses in our region who have been essential during the ongoing pandemic.

Each of the communities we write about has been affected in different ways by the coronavirus. In some, case numbers are low, and the economic toll is far greater. In others, there are significant concerns about a widespread virus outbreak as well as the economic toll from mandatory shutdowns.

But all of our communities have benefited from the continued operation of essential businesses and workers during an uncertain time. And the people keeping our communities going are regular folks who are well-deserving of recognition.

Some of the essential workers are recipients of public gratitude on a semi-regular basis — to include first responders. But the nursing assistants, nursing home employees, truck drivers and commercial cleaning crews are just now getting their due. Usually, their jobs are not glamorous.

In Salisbury, I’ve been particularly grateful for the people who keep store shelves stocked after customers descended on grocery stores to fill their pantries as well as their bathroom closets with toilet paper.

Together, our newspapers have worked to find a variety of people and places whose service is worth saluting. In Davie County, the sheriff’s office is helping to deliver meals. In Clemmons, Miranda Barneycastle’s work as a health care provider has always been demanding, but it’s more important now than ever. In Albemarle, Juliana Roberts writes for the Stanly News and Press about emergency medical technician Brian Phillips, whose job is important every day. The pandemic, though, has added new challenges.

The stories we’ve worked to gather is not intended to be comprehensive. There are so many people who are working in the face of a virus about which much is still unknown.

Our newspapers hope that this special publication can serve as just a small sampling.

Josh Bergeron is editor of the Salisbury Post.

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