The Trump administration and Republican officials have now taken to blaming workers in the meatpacking industry (and presumably elsewhere) for bringing COVID-19 into the workplace. In addition, infection rates at many plants are not being made public.
Last week, Politico reported that HHS Secretary Alex Azar said outbreaks in meatpacking plants “were linked more to the ‘home and social’ aspects of workers’ lives rather than the conditions inside the facilities.” The Washington Post reported a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice’s remark that an outbreak at a meatpacking plant “didn’t seem to have come from ‘regular folks,’” but from workers at the plant.
President Trump has ordered those employees to work in dangerous — indeed deadly — environments. In many states, if they choose not to work because of health concerns, they will be fired. They will not be eligible for unemployment. Most of them do not have and cannot afford health insurance or to see a doctor for any health issue, including the coronavirus.
Let’s remember that it’s those essential workers in all sectors of our economy who are making it possible for us to work at home, have food to eat, flush our toilets and use the Internet, have products delivered to our homes, get where we need to go if we don’t have a car, or have a baby in a safe, clean delivery room.
The demonizing of workers is only the latest despicable act in a series of despicable acts perpetrated by this administration and its supporters at all levels of government. Instead of blaming workers for the spread of the virus, officials should make sure widespread testing is available, infection rates are reported, companies are held accountable for not providing a safe workplace and employees are offered a place to isolate from their families while they recover from the virus or continue to do the work that is keeping this country afloat.
It’s true. Those workers aren’t like us “regular folks.” They’re our salvation.
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