Social distancing in the era of COVID-19 has made it nearly impossible to offer a pat on the back to first responders and health care workers on the front line against the deadly virus.
But a group of Nassau County lawmakers is proposing the next best thing — a letter-writing campaign where local children and community members can offer words of appreciation to police officers, firefighters, EMS workers, doctors and nurses.
"Our community has time and time again shown our ability to come together in times of crisis," Republican Legis. John Ferretti, the organizer of the "Letters to Our Heroes" initiative, said at a news conference Monday outside his Levittown home. "This outbreak is no exception. I urge everyone to take just a few minutes to email or send a letter to be delivered to our community's heroes in the coming weeks and to help your children and community do the same."
Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, a registered nurse, said, "these letters will go a long way toward sending our appreciation" to the doctors, nurses, pharmacists and first responders "working around the clock to keep our community safe and healthy."
Lawmakers and civic leaders said the letter-writing campaign is also a useful tool to keep children occupied as they are home from school.
Nassau Police Benevolent Association president James McDermott said the letters will lift the spirits of his members, including the 43 county cops who have contracted the virus.
"It's a good idea and a good thing," McDermott said. "My cops will appreciate it."
Through April 7, Nassau residents can write or email a letter, picture or drawing to first responders or health care workers expressing appreciation for their work during the coronavirus pandemic.
The notes can be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the lawmaker's office at1550 Franklin Ave. in Mineola.
The paper letters and printouts of the emails will be sorted, and delivered to precincts, hospitals and health care centers throughout the county, Ferretti said. The paper letters will first be quarantined for one week out of an abundance of caution.
"It's events like this that put into perspective who the true everyday heroes are," said Legis. Steve Rhoads (R-Bellmore). "The people that put their lives on the line every single day to make sure we are safe and make sure we can enjoy our freedoms."