“It’s been a long week.” This is what Adam, my husband and a family doctor, told me on Sunday.He has been treating patients as COVID-19 has ravaged through our communities over the past week.

He spent the week in and out of the hospitals, counseling newly diagnosed patients, and hoping he and other healthcare workers don’t get it. Even though we were talking over video conference (he was sticking to the basement to protect my kids and me in case he was exposed), I could see the wear and tear on his face. And that’s saying something--he’s a farm kid who isn’t rattled by much.

The same toll is visible on the faces of so many of our front line workers. They are our family and neighbors: a nurse working 12 hour days at a drive-thru testing site, a police officer who may have been exposed while entering a house, a grocery clerk filling order after order, the home-health nurse who cares for our loved ones like my son (who has a rare, life-threatening condition and is on a ventilator at night to breathe).

I care about each of them and am humbled with gratitude. They — and their families — are sacrificing greatly right now, trying to keep us all healthy, safe, fueled, and fed. On Thursday, I received a tearful call from a newly diagnosed friend who works at a grocery store. To her and all of our essential workers: thank you and we love you. Words cannot express our gratitude enough.

We certainly are living through unprecedented times. They are scary and uncertain and often exhausting. We all want life to return to normal. We want to be able to see our grandparents in the nursing home, to be with our friends again, to be able to work normally, to worship in person.

But we are Iowans. When times get tough, we are tougher. We come together as communities to serve meals, sew masks, and celebrate our graduating seniors. We need each other more now than ever. Thank you for doing your part. Thank you for staying home except for work, emergencies, and essentials. Thank you for keeping your distance, even though we desperately want to be together. Thank you for wearing a mask over your nose and mouth to protect our workers. Thank you for washing your hands for the millionth time. Thank you for supporting our small businesses. Thank you for finding new creative ways to care for each other.

And thank you to our front line workers. We stand with you.

Carissa Froyum is a teacher at UNI, mother of three, and candidate for Iowa House District 63. She lives in Denver.