mass murdering swine on top deserve hanging

Pindostan smashes daily COVID-19 death record again with over 1,700 fatalities in 24 hours, as outbreaks accelerate beyond New York
RT.com, Apr 8 2020

Pindostan has set a new record for its daily mortality count, reporting just shy of 2,000 new deaths in the span of a single day, as fatalities in New York and beyond continue to mount. While stats in recent days appeared to show deaths leveling off, the latest figures gathered by Johns Hopkins University indicate that Tuesday was the deadliest day yet in Pindostan, with some 1,736 new fatalities. New York state has been the greatest contributor to the death toll by far, but the new data shows that deaths are also surging in other states.

New York records worst death toll in pandemic, as 731 die in one day
Josh Varlin, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

New York state marked a grim milestone Monday, with 731 deaths from COVID-19 recorded. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters the next day that this made Monday the deadliest day yet in the coronavirus pandemic for the state, coming after two days of fewer than 500 deaths. By the time Cuomo made his announcement, deaths in NYC alone had surpassed the 2,977 killed on 9/11, and as of this writing 4,009 have died in America’s largest city from the pandemic. Tuesday saw 727 deaths in NYC alone, the worst day so far for the largest city in Pindostan. As of this writing, New York state has 138,836 confirmed cases, more than any country except Spain and Pindostan as a whole. Of these cases, 76,876 are in NYC, with substantial cases in the surrounding counties, including Long Island’s Nassau (16,610) and Suffolk (14,517) counties and Westchester County (14,804), just north of the city. Rockland, Orange, Dutchess and Erie counties all have over 1,000 cases, and Monroe County, which includes the economically devastated city of Rochester, has a major cluster of 596 cases. The neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut have 44,416 cases and 7,781 cases, respectively. More than 1,000 people died in the three states combined on Monday. All of these figures, both the cases as well as the fatalities, must be considered substantial underestimates. In particular, people dying in their homes, rather than in a hospital, has seen a huge surge from the same time last year. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has said that 200 NYC residents are dying at home each day, comparable to the daily average in hospitals last week, whereas only 20-25 people would die at home on a typical day before the pandemic. While a huge portion of these deaths are reported to the city’s health department as “probable” COVID-19 deaths, those who have died at home are not tested and, if there was not a pending test from before they died that comes back positive, are not reported as official COVID-19 deaths. Even New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio admits that “the vast majority” of these deaths are likely due to the coronavirus.

While Cuomo and de Blasio have sounded cautiously optimistic notes about a slight decrease in hospitalization rates over a couple days, the sudden spike in deaths at home and in hospitals makes clear that the apex has not been reached in New York. The working-class boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx have the highest numbers of known cases, with Queens and the Bronx having the highest rates of infection. Bronx residents had a disproportionate fatality rate, likely due to significant higher rates of asthma and other preexisting conditions associated with poverty that make it much harder to survive COVID-19. In particular, air pollution appears to play a significant role in lowering individuals’ ability to fight off the coronavirus, with a Harvard study recently submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine for review finding that long-term exposure to just one microgram per cubic meter of particulate matter in air pollution increased the chance of dying from coronavirus by 15%. While some city council members, the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders and pseudo-left organizations have portrayed the high fatality rate in the Bronx and elsewhere as principally a racial issue, poverty is at the root of disproportionate death tolls among minority groups. The situation has deteriorated to the point that the Pindo military is sending hundreds of medical personnel to NYC, after both Cuomo and de Blasio pleaded with the federal government to send troops. In addition to the approximately 600 personnel already in New York, Sec Def Esper told the press on Apr 5 that the military would send 1,100 more doctors, nurses and medical aides, with hundreds working in understaffed hospitals and the majority taking over the Javits Convention Center, which has been repurposed into a makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients. Esper proclaimed:

We will soon be taking over the Javits Center, a 2,500-bed capacity, to show you how all-in we are. The Pindo military will soon be running the largest hospital in Pindostan.

The other much-touted military effort, the deployment of the navy hospital ship Comfort, has proven to be a cruel farce. When originally announced, the ship was under repair. After arriving in New York Harbor last week, the ship, with an official capacity of 1,000 beds, treated about 20 non-COVID-19 patients at first. Then, after patients with COVID-19 were unintentionally brought on board, the military announced that the ship would be converted to treat COVID-19 patients, but with a reduced capacity of 500 beds. A crew member has tested positive for the disease, and likely contracted it in Virginia before the Comfort deployed to New York, according to the Navy. The turn toward the military, while at least for now ostensibly requesting purely medical assistance, has ominous implications for democratic rights in the epicenter of the pandemic. The NYPD has begun arresting people because they allegedly “failed to maintain social distancing.” For the crime of allegedly gathering in crowds during a pandemic, the NYPD throws violators into a crowded jail cell with dozens of other people and no soap or water. Cuomo has demanded that the police do more, fuming:

The NYPD has to get more aggressive, period.

Not to be outdone, the erstwhile “progressive” de Blasio has asked New Yorkers to snitch on each other and call a non-emergency line to summon law enforcement if they see a lack of social distancing, presumably so their neighbors can also be confined to crowded and unsanitary jail cells. Earlier this week, city boxtops reported that part of the city’s pandemic plan, if morgues, temporary morgues and mass graves on Hart Island became overwhelmed, was to create temporary graves in a public park. Councilman Mark Levine, who originally tweeted this, noted that it would “be tough for NYC to take.” No doubt concerned about a social explosion, de Blasio was quick to say:

There will never, ever be anything like ‘mass graves’ or ‘mass internment’ in NYC, ever.

Levine clarified that the plan was for if New Yorkers continue to die at an increasing rate such that Rikers Island prisoners are unable to bury them quickly enough on Hart Island, traditionally the city’s cite for unclaimed bodies. Despite the growing number of infections and deaths, Cuomo has sought to reassure the population that as yet, the capacity of the health care system to treat patients had not been overwhelmed and no-one had died for lack of care. Yesterday he claimed:

I don’t believe we’ve lost a single person because we couldn’t provide care. People we lost we couldn’t save despite our best efforts.

This is false, bluntly, and Cuomo almost certainly knows it. Despite the heroic efforts of medical workers, the health care system in New York is clearly overwhelmed and people are dying of COVID-19 and other illnesses who would not have died had the system had greater capacity, to say nothing of if containment measures were implemented earlier. A physician in the Bronx recently relayed to the WSWS:

Our A&E is full of patients. Sometimes we can’t get to them, and they die there. I don’t know how many have died.

Non-COVID-19 patients are also dying due to the pandemic. Paramedics and EMTs are no longer bringing to the hospital patients who have suffered cardiac arrest if their heartbeat can’t be restored in the field, because hospitals and medical personnel are working beyond capacity. Dr Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University said:

Deaths because of reduced care for other non-COVID diseases, including chronic conditions, should be somehow tallied as we’re looking at the death toll of COVID.

With little end in sight to the pandemic, Cuomo has extended until the end of April statewide measures to shutter nonessential businesses and enforce social distancing. No less than Trump, Cuomo is anxious to restart the economy. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, all Demagogs, have announced that they are looking to restart the tristate region’s economy as soon as possible. Cuomo has said:

You’re not going to end the infection, end the virus, before you start restarting life. I don’t think we have that luxury.

While the governors are more cautious than Trump, they are clearly motivated by economic concerns, not public health. Cuomo has repeatedly raised letting young people back to work early, or relying on an antibody test which will soon be implemented, even though it is not yet clear if antibodies will provide immunity or, if so, for how long. Politico, reporting on the governors’ plan, noted:

Some public health experts have reservations about that approach, citing the difficulty in separating young people who may be exposed if they return to work from their elderly relatives or those with underlying conditions. Priority for an antibody test should be given to health care and other frontline workers, they suggested.

More than 700 employees at one Detroit hospital system test positive for coronavirus
John Bowden, The Hill, Apr 6 2020

Hundreds of staff at a Detroit-area hospital system have tested positive for coronavirus, the system’s chief clinical officer said Monday evening. Dr Adnan Munkarah of the Henry Ford Health System confirmed 731 cases of the coronavirus among employees at the hospital system, accounting for 2% of the hospital system’s 31,600 employees. As many as 1,500 at another hospital system in the state have reported symptoms similar to coronavirus, though those numbers are not confirmed cases. Munkarah told reporters on a press call earlier in the day:

If we are to test the whole population, you are going to see large numbers of people who are testing positive. Testing positive is just a measure of how contagious this virus is.

Munkarah said in a separate statement Monday evening confirming the total number of positive test results:

Our team members are our greatest asset, and their health and safety is a top priority as we continue to respond to this pandemic. We know we are not immune to potential exposure and we remain grateful for the courage and dedication of our entire team.

Detroit has seen a surge of coronavirus cases in recent days. Michigan has seen just over 17,000 cases of the virus, the third-largest total of any state. More than 5,000 of those cases were reported in Detroit, where hundreds have died. The hospital system’s chief operating officer added in a statement that staff were working “24/7” to acquire more personal protective equipment for nurses and doctors including masks, which hospitals across the country have reported trouble obtaining.

WHO warns against premature ending of social distancing measures
Bryan Dyne, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

As countries around the world openly discuss how to send workers back to plants, warehouses and offices, even as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, the WHO has warned that ending social distancing measures prematurely and without sufficient preparation can rapidly accelerate the ongoing public health crisis. During Monday’s WHO press conference, Executive Director Dr Michael Ryan stressed:

It would be very inadvisable to just lift lockdown if the number of cases coming through the hospital is already at a level where your occupancy of beds is nearly at 100%. You need to be in a position where you now have free beds in your system so that you’re managing and coping with your case load. You’ll see in somewhere like Korea, 2% to 6% of their samples are testing positive. Last week in New York 37% of tested samples were positive.

That the rate of positive cases is so high indicates a large number of undetected people infected with the coronavirus. These themes were further developed in a briefing on the situation in Europe Tuesday, when WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier made clear:

One of the most important parts is not to let go of the measures too early in order not to have a fall back again.

The warnings of the WHO come as the number of deaths worldwide approach 82,000 and the number of officially confirmed cases bursts past 1.4 million. Pindostan alone accounts for nearly 400,000 of the cases and almost 13,000 deaths, with a record 1,970 dead from the virus in the past 24 hours. While Ryan and Lindmeier did not name names, they are no doubt referencing recent press conferences given by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in which he stated:

We are going to have to restart the economy.

Trump stated, along the same lines, “We want to get it opened soon,” justifying this by asserting that the “signs are that our strategy is totally working” and that “maybe we’re getting to the very top of the curve.” The line being put forward by Trump, Cuomo and the political establishment is that mitigation measures have proven successful and as the number of new cases decline then the country should begin thinking about sending workers back to the factories, schools, warehouses and offices en masse sometime sooner rather than later. It is not the massive loss of life that ultimately bothers Trump and the financial oligarchs, but that “the cure should not be worse than the disease.” Workers must be sent back to work in order for corporations to keep making billions off their labor. Such a back-to-work order would be disastrous for the working class. First, Trump’s comments dismiss situations like that in Michigan, where the number of cases and deaths are still clearly trending upward. Second, as long as there are any new cases, the pandemic can flare up again, potentially worse than before if people are forced to work in close proximity while the virus is still active. Historical data on pandemics is very clear that lockdowns should not be ended as the number of new cases is declining, or even when new cases reach zero, but when there have been no new cases for a few weeks or even a month. As stated by the WHO’s Dr Ryan:

To chart a path out, you have to build strong public health capacity to take over from the lockdown. In other words, the lockdown is pushing the disease down by putting people back in their homes and separating communities. But once you raise the lockdown you have to have an alternative method to suppress the infection. The way to do that is active case finding, testing, isolation of cases, tracking of contacts, quarantine of contacts, and strong community education.

Such measures have yet to be placed into action within Pindostan, despite Trump’s boasts that Pindostan has done the most testing in the world. This has only been true for the past few weeks, before which the number of tests conducted was criminally low and allowed the coronavirus to spread in the population for weeks. And testing is still not available for the population as a whole, or for health care workers on the frontline, but remains reserved only for those who are hospitalized with sufficient symptoms, as defined by changing criteria. The implication is that the true extent of the virus is still unknown and pursing a relaxation of mitigation efforts will be disastrous for the public at large. It should also be noted the number of detected cases is related to the amount of testing done. The number of confirmed new cases in New York decreased in previous days as did the number of tests performed by the state. Testing only symptomatic cases indicates that their contacts and suspected individuals are still uncounted. This implies that the scope of the outbreak is more enormous than the numbers suggest. Alongside laying the groundwork to force workers back to work, Trump has also begun to heavily criticize the WHO for its response to the pandemic, in order to undermine their stark although understated objections to Trump’s designs. In a tweet Tuesday, he ranted:

The WHO really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by Pindostan, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately, I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?

He continued these themes at yesterday’s press conference, claiming:

They called it wrong. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known. They should’ve known and they probably did know. So, we’ll be looking into them very carefully. And we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO.

This was picked up in major news publications including the WSJ, which published an article by its editorial board on Sunday headlined thus:

WHO’s bows to Beijing have harmed the global response to the pandemic.

The article” railed that the agency’s “misinformation” allowed the virus to “spread to several countries” because of its “canoodling with Beijing.” It at the same time, it gushed about Trump’s travel ban against China as “slowing the spread of the virus,” despite the fact that Pindostan has more than a quarter of the world’s coronavirus cases as a result of the administration’s inaction in January, February and the first part of March. This is not the first time the Rupert Murdoch-owned publication has attacked the WHO for its supposedly Chinese-centric focus. As early as Feb 13, the newspaper was writing, “WHO bowed to Chinese pressure” in not declaring a public emergency early in January. In fact, WHO did declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Jan 29, before Pindostan assembled its coronavirus task force and well before Trump declared a national emergency. It should be mentioned that Trump had been made aware of the potential consequences for Pindostan by Peter Navarro, one of Trump’s high-ranking assistants, and Alex Azar, head of Health and Human Services, before their declaration. Of course, neither Trump, the editors of the WSJ nor any of the big banks they serve are ultimately concerned about the medical response of the WHO. They see a mortal threat in the fear that “China inevitably gains more international clout as its economy grows.” This is especially true as China’s economy begins to re-open after having been closed since January, while that of the US remains essentially in lockdown. These are the calculations made by the Pindo ruling elite. They see China emerging from the pandemic in a stronger geopolitical position, which cannot be tolerated. There is no thought given to the tens of thousands that have already died, the hundreds of thousands of infected and the hundreds of millions who face the loss of their livelihoods as a result of this pandemic. They do not consider the ramifications of their actions for the working class by sending them back to face a resurgence of the infection. The working class must make its own calculations, based on the preservation of human life and the compensation of all those who cannot yet safely return to work. This must be based on the broadest struggle against the control by the capitalist class over all aspects of economic life in the drive for private profit. The resources that have been placed at the disposal of the banks and major corporations must be redirected towards ending this pandemic and establishing a socialist economy based on the interests of humanity on a global scale.

Pindo automakers planning return to work before coronavirus danger subsides
Tom Hall, Jessica Goldstein, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

On Monday, Fiat Chrysler announced it would push back the restart date for its north American production facilities by three weeks, from Apr 14 to May 4. Ford indicated the same day that it would likely no longer restart in April as currently planned. General Motors has never officially announced a set timetable to reopen its plants, declaring that it would instead evaluate the situation on a weekly basis. Also, this week, Nissan, Honda and BMW, which operate assembly plants throughout the southern states of Pindostan, announced they would place workers on unpaid furloughs for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. While they will continue to receive health insurance, workers will have to apply for unemployment in order to replace their lost income. Many of the industrial states where the Pindo auto industry is concentrated will likely remain under lockdown orders throughout the month of April. Michigan, the center of the Pindo auto industry, is currently under lockdown through Apr 13, although this will likely be extended. The Michigan state legislature voted yesterday to extend governor Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers through Apr 30. Michigan has the third-highest number of cases in the country, at more than 17,000. The ultimate decision over when to reopen the plants, however, has been left to the discretion of the auto companies, whose operations are considered “critical national infrastructure” under federal DHS guidelines.

The twin announcements do not come out of an abundance of caution for autoworkers’ safety. All three Detroit automakers, with the collaboration of the UAW union, used lies and threats to keep workers on the job until a wave of wildcat strikes and job actions in mid-March forced them to shutter north American production. Rather, the automakers are biding their time, carefully but assiduously planning out a return to work before the pandemic danger subsides. From the point of view of Wall Street, the potential loss of billions in revenue during a prolonged shutdown is totally unacceptable. Even before the pandemic, the auto companies were under immense pressure from their investors to improve their profit margins, under conditions of declining sales worldwide, through “restructuring,” including mass layoffs and plant closures. While the stock markets have rallied on the basis of the injection of trillions in cash by the world’s central banks and governments, this money must ultimately be paid out through the increased exploitation of the working class. Following the Wall Street bailout in 2008, the Obama administration carried out a forced restructuring of the auto industry in 2009, which slashed pay for new hires by half, gutted retiree health benefits and vastly expanded temporary labor. Trump is escalating his demands for a return to work as soon possible, repeating the mantra taken up by much of the political establishment and corporate media that the “cure cannot be worse than the disease.” On Apr 2, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), a prominent industry think tank, hosted a webinar with the following title:

Arsenal of Health: How automakers and suppliers are stepping up to support the medical response to the COVID-19 crisis.

In spite of the title, the central preoccupation of the assembled industry analysts and executives was restarting production as soon as possible. CAR is holding another webinar this afternoon, more bluntly titled “The Playbook for Restarting Production.” The webinar was held shortly before the official death toll among Pindo autoworkers rose to 17, including 11 Fiat Chrysler workers and 6 Ford workers. GM has not announced any death totals, although 26 people have already died in Flint and the surrounding Genesee County, where much of its production is still located. Auto parts lobbyist Julie Fream, a former vice president for Visteon, told the webinar’s participants:

The challenge is to balance employee safety with the need of these companies from a financial perspective to get moving.

Fream explained that her lobby group, the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, was heavily involved in crafting the language of the massive bailout passed by Congress last month, ensuring in particular that mid-sized auto suppliers received a cut of the $2t on offer. Fream admitted that the auto industry’s conversion of a small fraction of its industrial capacity to producing medical equipment such as ventilators and face shields is primarily a “feelgood” measure, both for public consumption, and to test out methods the companies need to convince workers to return to work, despite the continued danger. Ford and GM, working with the UAW union, have recruited a few hundred workers for these projects in Michigan and Indiana. Fream said:

When you talk about making a product for the medical device companies or PPE, especially for suppliers it is a relatively small portion of what they do. There is a really feel good factor about this, but there is also a pulling together of the workforce behind this, and the team supporting this. Many suppliers have looked for volunteer workers at this time and done some unique things to manage the cost basis.

CAR president Carla Bailo added:

This is a North American issue. Returning back to work requires that Pindostan, Canada and Mexico all be in sync. It can’t be a hodgepodge because our sourcing and supply chains are so intermingled together.

Fream replied:

In looking at that, we have to understand what Mexico is saying about businesses coming back on-line so we can define how the rest of the rest of the north American region comes back on-line. We need to work together so we can have a strong, rapid-as-possible and safe start.

While the Pindo automakers would no doubt like to use Mexican workers as their guinea pigs to restart production throughout the continent, opposition is already spreading among Mexican auto parts workers. Wildcat strikes have broken out among thousands of auto parts workers in the border city of Matamaoros, who have been kept on the job under cover of the government’s malleable definition of “essential businesses.” As with the massive strike last year by many of the same Matamoros workers, waged both against the companies and the CTM union, this new wave of strikes has been completely blacked out in the English language press, with the exception of the WSWS. Much of the rest of the discussion in the webinar centered on social distancing and other measures which the companies could enact, including plexiglass dividers, touchless doors and water fountains. But these are only stopgaps which will, at best, slow but not stop the spread of the virus. By contrast, the city of Wuhan, China’s “Motor City” and the initial epicenter of the pandemic, is only now ending its lockdown after 76 days, after the number of new cases across the entire country has dropped to zero. Before last month’s wildcats, the auto executives and the UAW made similar promises about sanitizing plants and protecting workers. In reality, workers were forced to stay on the job in filthy conditions, without even access to masks, gloves, sanitizers or even running water in some cases. The real measures being planned were spelled out in a 51-page “Safe Work Playbook,” published by the parts supplier Lear and intended as advice for the entire industry. Pages 12 and 13 argue that masks are unnecessary for all but a “very limited number” of personnel and advises against using gloves at all. The document stupidly declares:

The COVID-19 virus does not harm your hands, and people who wear gloves are less inclined to wash their hands.

Proper removal of gloves would also require training, according to the document, which the company does not want to provide. The UAW is working overtime to reassure workers that the companies are taking workers’ safety seriously. In a recent notice sent to workers at Fiat Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, one of the plants where autoworkers downed their tools last month, UAW Local 7 president Gary Hill acknowledged three confirmed COVID-19 cases among plant workers. The letter then praised the guidelines being prepared by FCA and declared that the plant had been thoroughly cleaned. Among autoworkers, there is widespread opposition to a premature return to work and the sacrifice of workers’ lives to build unessential vehicles and boost the profits of the corporations. To protect their own safety and to prevent the spread of the virus in their communities, autoworkers should form rank-and-file committees, independent of the corrupt UAW, to organize workers to prevent any premature return to work. At the same time, autoworkers should fight for an end to all inessential production and the conversion of the auto and other industries into production for live-saving equipment and protective gear for health care workers. Rank-and-file committees must oversee safety conditions in these plants in conjunction with health care professionals. The safety of workers is incompatible with the relentless drive for corporate profit. That is why the movement to protect workers lives, which is spreading throughout every industry and across countries, must be guided by a socialist perspective, including the transformation of the auto industry into a public utility, collectively owned and democratically controlled by workers themselves.

Worker revolt spreads, demanding protections from coronavirus
Marcus Day, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

Doctors detained in Balochistan, Pakistan, following a protest against lack of equipment.
Credit: Pakistan Young Doctors Association

Strikes and demonstrations continue to break out internationally, as expanding layers of the working class are drawn into the struggle for adequate resources to combat the coronavirus pandemic and protect themselves from the disease. The total number of COVID-19 cases neared 1.5 million Tuesday night, with over 80,000 deaths. Officially reported cases in Pindostan comprise over a quarter of that number, at roughly 400,000, with new infections surging in a number of major urban areas, including NYC & Detroit. Doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians and other healthcare workers are facing horrific conditions, desperately trying to save as many lives as possible, while they themselves are deprived of adequate protective equipment, necessary medical resources, or in some cases even paid sick leave. While the Trump administration has worked with congressional Demagogs to bail out the major corporations and banks with trillions of dollars, they have simultaneously carried out a policy of deliberate neglect of the measures needed to combat the pandemic and protect the population. In just one example, the Pindo Hospital Association, representing multi-billion-dollar health systems, lobbied Congress last month to kill a language in a bill that would have mandated stricter protections for health workers, according to Mother Jones. At the same time, highly exploited and impoverished workers now deemed essential, including grocery, meatpacking and food service workers, Amazon and other delivery workers and public transit workers, continue to labor in crowded workplaces themselves, almost universally lacking basic protections such as face masks and gloves. The result is predictable, with a rapidly growing number of cases and rising death toll at workplaces that continue to operate, and ominous consequences for the further spread of the disease. Thousands of workers at two of Michigan’s largest health systems, Henry Ford and Beaumont, have tested positive or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and fatalities have been reported at Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Giant and UPS. Strikes to protest these conditions are frequently emerging as wildcat actions, launched independently of the trade unions, which are earning the ire of workers for their apologetics for the companies’ inaction and their own indifference. Around 30 healthcare workers demonstrated outside Harlem Hospital in New York Monday to protest the lack of protective equipment. The action followed a sit-in by nurses at a Detroit hospital early that morning. Ania Binkowska, a respiratory therapist, told the local press:

If we are not provided with sufficient PPE, we’re going to be spreading this disease to our loved ones, to other patients and it’s going to be a vicious cycle and you’re never going to be able to control it.

In western Pennsylvania, dozens of nurses walked out a rehab center last Thursday, protesting management’s refusal to provide them with N95 masks to wear around senior residents. In Pakistan, doctors launched a strike Tuesday in noncritical wards in Balochistan, the country’s poorest province. The strike was launched in response to the arrest of nearly 70 protesting physicians in Quetta, the province’s capital, on Monday. One doctor from a public hospital said:

In the trauma centre, before the coronavirus, we had enough kits that if we were operating in the operation theatre, we had a surgical mask and cap. Now we don’t even have that.

In Lesotho, a small landlocked country in Africa, doctors and healthcare workers struck Monday, protesting the government’s stonewalling of demands for protective gear. Despite being surrounded by South Africa, which has the largest numbers of COVID-19 in Africa, Lesotho has yet to report any cases, due to its absence of testing capabilities. Amazon workers at New York’s JFK8 facility on Staten Island struck for the second straight Monday, following other walkouts at Amazon locations in Chicago and Detroit over the last week. Chris Smalls, a worker at the fulfillment center in New York fired by the company after organizing an initial walkout, told Vice that he estimates nearly 30 cases at the site. In a widely reported leaked memo, Amazon’s general counsel discussed the company’s PR strategy to combat the growing worker protests, snidely calling Smalls as “not smart or articulate.” At major retail and supermarket chain Target, gig workers for its delivery service, Shipt, refused to take assignments Tuesday, demanding hazard pay, protective equipment, and strengthened sick time policies. Workers for Shipt have said that even as their work has grown more dangerous, a change in the company’s compensation algorithm has lowered their pay. Target spokesman Joe Poulos denounced the strikes, saying:

It’s unfortunate that a very small number of people were communicating there was this big strike.

In Boston, grocery store workers from a number of chains, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Stop & Shop, and others, demonstrated Tuesday. Lisa Wilson, a worker at Shaw’s and an organizer of the protest, told the Boston Globe:

There’s always a level of fear. Is today going to be the day that I get sick?

On Sunday, workers at a McDonald’s location in Los Angeles walked out after learning that a coworker had been diagnosed with COVID-19, following walkouts at McDonald’s in a number of other cities in recent weeks. Bartolome Perez, a cook at the location, told local news:

We’ve been pleading for protective equipment for more than a month now, but McDonald’s is putting its profits ahead of our health. We don’t want to die for McDonald’s burgers and fries.

Also in Massachusetts, thousands more construction workers, members of the Painters and Allied Trades Union, stopped work Tuesday, joining some 13,000 carpenters who began to strike on Monday, responding to the state governor’s refusal to shut down nonessential construction sites. Sheet metal workers also stopped work on construction on a casino, police administration, and other projects in South Philadelphia. Construction at the casino had previously been halted after a drywall finisher was confirmed to have COVID-19 earlier in March. In Romeoville, Illinois, some 20 workers at the auto parts manufacturer Midwest Air Tech walked out Monday morning, also after a worker was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus. Management reportedly had sought to persuade workers with a bump in pay to clean the plant themselves, rather than hiring a professional cleaning firm. After more than a week of angry protests by GE Appliance workers demanding the closure of the giant Louisville, Kentucky, facility, the company announced a deal with local union officials from International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America to give workers a $2 raise and grant a leave of absence to workers underlying health issues, childcare and eldercare issues. After making noises last week about calling a strike, the IUE-CWA announced it had to abide by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s decision that the appliance maker was an “essential business.” Workers are livid about being kept at work despite the threat. In a Facebook video, one worker said

I just don’t understand the mind-frame and the thought process of why building a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher, or a refrigerator is worth putting people’s lives at risk. Not only their lives, the workers, but then their families when they go home to them.

The major automakers have idled most of their main assembly operations following a wave of wildcat actions, but some are seeking to restart as early as the beginning of May, even as the number of COVID-19 deaths among autoworkers continue to rise. Meanwhile, a number of auto parts firms, along with agricultural and heavy equipment firms such as Deere and Caterpillar are still operating, with increasingly vocal protests from workers over the lack of protections.

One Comment

  1. PB
    Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Sometimes its a bug, sometimes its a feature. It just depends for whom.

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