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Health

Pandemic Wears on Essential Workers: ‘Everybody Forgets That You’re Still on the Front Line’ – The Wall Street Journal

When the state shut down around her in March, 67-year-old Joyce Babineau, a supermarket employee in Dartmouth, Mass., was among the many workers who stayed on the job providing basic needs during the pandemic.

She felt pride walking into Stop & Shop at 6 a.m. five days a week. She also felt constant dread knowing she was risking the health of her husband, who had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

At home after her nine-hour shift, she’d dash to the basement to strip off her work clothes and dump them straight into the washer, and then scrub herself in the shower. Only then would she greet her spouse, Paul Babineau, a 76-year-old U.S. Coast Guard veteran so friendly she nicknamed him “the welcome wagon.”

Now, months later, Ms. Babineau has a new after-work routine. She walks to her fireplace mantel, lights a candle and talks to the gold urn that holds her husband’s ashes.

“I talk to him and tell him I’m sorry,” she says. “Because I brought it home.”

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