US president Donald Trump is determined to force a speedy return to work—whatever the cost in human lives.
At a press conference last weekend he insisted that Americans “have to get back to work” despite also saying “there’ll be a lot of death”.
“Think of it,” he said. “We’re paying people not to go to work. How about that? How does that play?”
His brutal remarks came as the surgeon general Jerome Adams said, “This is going to be our Pearl Harbour moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localised.”
There have already been more than 10,000 deaths in the US from Covid-19.
Workers in some industries are hitting back. In Massachusetts, over 10,000 construction workers planned a strike on Monday over worksite safety concerns.
Union representative Tom Flynn said, “there’s no real enforcement” of safety measures at some sites.
Workers at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, New York, walked out last week.
“How many cases we got? Ten!” they chanted referring to workers who had tested positive there with Covid-19.
There was also a strike in Detroit, and protests at Amazon in Chicago on Friday and Saturday.
Fears of contamination also led to a walkout by as many as 150,000 workers for grocery delivery service Instacart at the start of last week.
On Thursday, dozens of workers walked out at a Hershey’s food packing plant in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, operated by logistics giant XPO.
And around 900 workers at the JBS USA meat processing plant in Greeley in Colorado refused to go to work last week.
The action came after coronavirus cases were confirmed among employees. The plant has a largely migrant workforce where employees speak 27 different languages. But they organised against a total lack of safety measures.
A study in the New York Times newspaper last week showed that rich people have been able to observe “social distancing” measures much more easily than the poor.
The data showed that people in all income groups are moving around less than they did before the outbreak.
But richer people are staying home far more, especially during the working week.
In nearly every state the rich were able to restrict their movements days before the poor, giving them a head start on social distancing as the virus spread.
In many major metropolitan areas, the wealthiest 10 percent has reduced its movement effectively to zero.
For the bottom ten percent, however, it approaches zero on the weekends before spiking back up during the work week.
A Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking poll found that 57 percent of adults are worried they risk exposure because they cannot afford to miss work.
For those on less than £32,000 a year the number rises to 72 percent.