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I-Team: The unseen frontline heroes of the pandemic

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Many people have played key roles in keeping our communities running as close to normal as possible during the pandemic. 

The I-Team spoke with some of the folks who never could have imagined a year ago that they would play such a critical in our daily lives. 

“It’s great that we are considered frontline workers, but there are so many people out there who also are frontline workers… To doctors, even insurance that have to take their calls. Some are just part of the team and did what they had to do this past year,” said Brent Radzwich, Gould’s ShurSave manager.

Most of us go grocery shopping at one time or another, as a normal routine. But that changed in the spring of 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The unknown impact of the coronavirus had many people thinking, for the first time, what threat level do I face going out into the public? That same thought crossed the minds of workers at stores like Gould’s ShurSave in Conyngham. Mackenze Auker says she dealt with thousands of customers in the check out line.

“I was a little concerned. I was worried that I was going to get COVID, but I’m constantly washing and sanitizing all the time and taking all the precautions I need to,” said Auker, a ShurSave employee.

For those who work in the grocery stores, they say they never realized just how crucial their work would be to so many people.

“I didn’t realize how important we all were here but as customers were coming in relying on us more that they ever did, we were just putting in long days. We realized we had to come to work. There were things that had to get done,” said Radzwich.

The coronavirus pandemic changed how people use public transportation, but it could not stop the wheels from moving. People were still able to depend on operations like the COLTS bus system in Lackawanna County and they can still depend on drivers like Lee Glover.

“The big thing with a lot of guys here is especially our senior drivers, they build such a personal relationship with the riders. It makes you feel good man and I like taking people back and forth,” Glover said.

And COVID-19 could not stop the vital services and operations of the public works departments in our communities such as garbage and recycling collection and the picking up of illegally dumped trash. Safety measures in place for sure, but the mission is the same.

“I felt like I would get sick. I tried my best not to get sick, do everything what I was supposed to be done… That’s about it,” said Wilkes-Barre DPW Lead Operator Timothy Pearce.

And we heard one common theme over and over again from all of the people we interviewed. They say they have a better understanding and appreciation for the feelings and concerns of others because of the experience of COVID-19.

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