People Are Harassing Essential Workers for Going out in Public

Some are getting nasty notes left on their cars, others are getting eggs thrown at them. It's the most bizarre thing that's happening right now.

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Apr. 13 2020, Updated 8:51 a.m. ET

Doctors, nurses, and other essential workers who have to keep going out these days are experiencing high levels of harassment and assault. It's one of the most bizarre and baffling trends to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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You would think that people would be extremely appreciative of those who are bravely going to work to provide us with essential services. These are the doctors and nurses who are saving our lives, the grocery store workers who are making sure we can feed ourselves, the delivery drivers who are bringing us essentials so we don't have to leave our homes. And people are punishing them. It makes no sense.

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This note was left on someone's car in the UK. Can you imagine making an assumption about a person leaving their home based on the fact that they're not wearing a uniform? Do you know which essential workers don't wear uniforms? Almost all of them

Doctors and nurses in many cases have been explicitly told not to travel in their uniforms, at first for fear of spreading the virus, and now because for some reason, people are harassing them when they see them in public. 

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I truly don't understand. If I see someone out and about these days, driving or entering a store, I immediately feel terrible for them because I assume they have an essential job and are being forced to continue to work. I am immediately appreciative that they have the courage to get in their car every morning and go to work.

The person who wrote this note didn't stop to think for one second that this person is probably overworked, underpaid, and scared to leave their house every day. The nerve! This letter was shared on Twitter, where it went viral and prompted many others to share similar stories.

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This is heartbreaking. This nurse, and so many others, are facing the challenge of their lives right now. They don't need this too. Yes, there are some people who aren't taking the stay-at-home mandate seriously. 

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But it's not your responsibility to do anything about it except stay home yourself and make sure you don't contribute to the problem. It's more than likely the person whose tires you're slashing is a healthcare worker who now can't help patients because you've decided to take matters into your own, ill-informed hands.

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It's really hard for me to wrap my head around this, but it's true. Doctors and nurses at a hospital in Guadalajara, Mexico were "told to wear civilian clothes to and from work rather than their scrubs or uniforms because some public buses refused to allow them to board," according to ABC News

I suppose people are doing this out of fear. They think they can harass healthcare workers into staying home. They're afraid of them spreading the virus, meanwhile, they are literally the only ones helping to treat those who contract it.

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There has also been a huge spike in racist harassment and assault specifically against Asian healthcare workers. Ivan Nativdad writes for Berkeley News, "On his way to work, a doctor was told to 'go back to f--king China.' An Asian nurse delivering medicine to a sick patient was spat on. And parents at a children's hospital refused care from healthcare staff with 'Asian appearances.'"

And it's not just healthcare workers. Hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased in the last few weeks. It's unconscionable and unacceptable. 

Things are hard enough as it is. Please don't be part of the problem. Stay home, salute your essential workers, and don't make assumptions about people and things that you don't know anything about. 

The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit  

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