For skeptics who believe that the Coronavirus is being reined in due to a slight reduction in hospital admissions in New York, California and Washington, the rise in infections and deaths among essential workers (representing only a fraction of the workforce as most of the country shelters-in-place) offers a sobering foreshadowing if the nation stops social distancing and quarantining.
As I wrote in a commentary last week, “If Trump ‘Opens Up the Economy’ on May 1, It Will Close Again by May 15 Due to Reignited COVID-19 Infectious Spread,” almost every field of essential workers has been stricken with COVID-19 infections and deaths.
Virtually every category of worker still participating in the “essential” economy has experienced Covid-19 infections and deaths.
BuzzFlash has posted several articles this week about essential workers who are daily in their jobs being infected by the Coronavirus, with a significant number dying. This includes, but not limited to supermarket workers, truck drivers, police, warehouse workers, farm workers, meat factory workers, postal workers, delivery men and women, Lyft and Uber drivers, first responders, airlines flight attendants and pilots, and of course, medical personnel. Virtually every category of worker still participating in the “essential” economy has experienced Covid-19 infections and deaths.
As just a few examples, The Washington Post reported on April 11 that being a postal worker,
often comes at great personal risk. Nearly 500 postal workers have tested positive for the coronavirus and 462 others are presumptive positives, USPS leaders told lawmakers. Nineteen have died; more than 6,000 are in self-quarantine because of exposure.
In the airlines industry, 50 Delta Airlines pilots have tested positive for the Coronavirus, as an example of the current perils of essential flight workers. At American Airlines, 100 American Airlines flight attendants and 41 pilots tested positive for Coronavirus as of April 8. Airline flight attendant unions, as of April 8, reported 600 flight attendants testing positive, but that is probably an undercount, given that at least 600 Southwest Airlines employees alone have tested positive and these figures do not include those quarantined.
And an April 10 New York Post article is headlined, “Second TSA employee dies from coronavirus as agency nears 350 cases,” and this, of course, does not include asymptomatic carriers who are infecting travelers because there is no regular testing of employees in almost any field, except White House staff in contact with Trump and Pence.
As an ominous example of how the food supply chain may be disrupted by the second COVID-19 wave that Trump is facilitating, a pork processing plant in South Dakota has “indefinitely” closed after nearly 300 workers tested positive for the Coronavirus. "The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply. It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running," the CEO of the shuttered facility said.
The Virginian-Pilot April 10 article also reported: “Other meat processing plants have also closed temporarily because of outbreaks of the coronavirus, including a Tyson Foods facility in Columbus Junction, Iowa, where more than two dozen employees tested positive.”
A more direct threat to the food supply is the breakout of Coronavirus among grocery store workers, as an April 12 Washington Post article is headlined, “‘It feels like a war zone’: As more of them die, grocery workers increasingly fear showing up at work. At least 41 grocery workers have died of the coronavirus and thousands more have tested positive in recent weeks.”
Of course, there are the hundreds upon hundreds — perhaps thousands — of infections and many deaths among heroic healthcare workers, including untold nurses and doctors, many of whom are being infected because the Trump administration refuses to provide more than token Personal Protective Equipment.
I could go on and cite other proof that the Coronavirus spread is continuing, although not as staggering as the first wave because the essential work force is much smaller than a month and a half ago, but what is more important is how the Trump administration is kindling the spread with new policies, not being prominently reported, that will further increase workplace spread at those essential businesses and critical care services still functioning outside homes-- and subsequently increase community spread.
Take for example this startling and dangerous CDC policy change regarding return to the “critical” essential workforce after exposure to a known carrier of the Coronavirus. It was not prominently reported, but I found it explained in an April 8 NPR article, which BuzzFlash summarized at the time:
NPR reports that the CDC has indeed issued new “guidelines,” which will result in the increased infection and likely deaths of more essential workers. NPR reports that “critical” infrastructure roles can return to work after being exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of the coronavirus” without quarantining for 14 days [and without a COVID-19 test]. These revised “guidelines” will result in new outbreaks of the Coronavirus, with resulting infections and deaths. It is a sign of how dangerous Trump’s obsession with “re-opening” the economy presents, as he puts American lives recklessly at risk.
Further indicating that Trump is going to “open up the economy” by causing more infections and deaths, is an April 12 Truthout article headlined, “Trump Admin Says Employers Don’t Have to Record Coronavirus Cases Among Workers”:
President Donald Trump’s Labor Department has quietly issued guidance informing most employers in the United States that they will not be required to record and report coronavirus cases among their workers because doing so would supposedly constitute an excessive burden on companies.
The new rules, released Friday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), were met with alarm by public health experts and former Labor Department officials who said the new rules are an absurd attack on transparency that could further endanger frontline workers.
Because COVID-19 is officially classified as a recordable illness, employers would typically be required to notify OSHA of coronavirus cases among their workers.
Trump has publicly said that he wants to keep the Coronavirus numbers low, but the current confirmed 560,000 infections and 22,000 deaths embarrassingly have him making the US number one in both infections and deaths. So, he is trying to muddle and fudge the numbers regarding the resurging infections in the essential workforce. He wants to hide how he is willing to have people infected and die in order that, as he once again bombastically stated this weekend, the economy will have a “tremendous surge. It will “take off like a rocket,” and be a “beautiful thing. “
However, those infected and who die will not be a “beautiful thing.” They will be horrifying “disposable people” who are evidence of a sociopath who should be prosecuted for his crimes against humanity.
If Trump tries to so-called “open the economy” before implementing a public health protocol of massive and sustained diagnostic and immunity testing, contact tracing, isolation and surveillance, which may take months given how Trump is sabotaging such efforts, the US will be back to sheltering-in-place within 3-4 weeks.
This second wave will be as dreadful as the first, just smaller, a willful act of negligent homicide by Donald J. Trump.