As COVID-19 cases rise and hospitals across Texas near capacity, Houston has been the Lone Star State’s ground-zero, grappling with unprecedented public health and economic challenges. While these trying times have put our great city to the test, Houstonians have been resilient in the face of such adversity. Let us not forget the dedicated essential workers in our community who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe and healthy.
Many think of doctors, nurses, nursing home staff, police officers, and firemen when it comes to essential workers. While these individuals are certainly leading the charge on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19, often overlooked are the truck drivers, grocery store workers, and those in critical manufacturing – to name a few – that diligently work to keep Texas’ economy moving forward and ensuring our essential needs are met.
Grocery store associates, for example, go to work day in and day out to ensure our communities have reliable access to the food, household necessities, and cleaning supplies necessary in order to return to some sense of normalcy. They – like others on the frontline – have had to adapt to the new normal while striving to keep consumers safe and Texas’s families fed.
We saw early on in the pandemic how easily hysteria could spread if stores ran low on essential items like toilet paper. But thankfully, the dedicated individuals in our stores and in the supply chain and manufacturing sectors are the reason why this hysteria quickly subsided, and why our grocery stores are clean and stocked. Whether you visit the brick and mortar store or opt for online shopping and delivery, grocery store employees are the folks who help keep our grocery stores running like a well-oiled machine.
As such, these committed employees should be celebrated, thanked, and protected. Thankfully, we’ve seen companies step up to reward employees and go above and beyond when it comes to keeping both customers and staff safe and healthy – working to be a critical part of the solution.
For example, Kroger this past week announced that all customers will be required to wear a mask when visiting stores – a CDC-recommended tactic in curbing the spread of COVID-19. The company has been on the forefront of implementing proactive and thorough measures like this to combat the virus, investing more than $830 million to reward and safeguard employees and customers in the communities in which they operate.
From being one of the first companies to reward its associates with “Hero Pay” and bonuses, access to mental health services, to establishing free drive-thru COVID testing locations throughout the Houston community, to installing glass partitions, enhanced cleaning and enforcing social distancing policies early on – it is clear we need more strong corporate citizens like Kroger to step up to the challenge and be part of the solution.
As we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19, let us not forget all the essential workers who keep us safe, the economy operational, and our families fed. Remember to take a minute and say “thank you” to these individuals in our community.
Gene Green represented the Houston area in Congress as a Democrat from 1993-2019.