The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services set up a website last week where employers can snitch on any workers "who quit or refuse work when it is available due to Covid-19".
Those workers can then be denied unemployment benefits. Ohio workers (as well as workers in Iowa and Texas) are literally being given the choice: your money or your life.
Ohio has had more than 1,300 deaths so far from COVID-19.
In the first week, more than 1,200 workers were "turned in" (in the Washington Post's words) for not reporting to work. Labor journalist Sarah Jaffe: "'Turned in' is a really fucked up way to even begin thinking about this."
State officials emailed companies across the state that "Ohio law prohibits individuals from receiving unemployment benefits if they refuse to accept offers of suitable work, or quit work, without good cause". You might think a deadly pandemic that has killed nearly 85,000 Americans would be "good cause", but the state has designated the public health crisis as an insufficient cause for staying home.
As mentioned above, the failure to report to work in reopened industries in Iowa can result in the loss of unemployment benefits.
On May 8, Iowa passed South Korea in confirmed COVID-19 cases.
As mentioned above, the failure to report to work in reopened industries in Texas can result in the loss of unemployment benefits.Two weeks after reopening: “The new cases Thursday marked the seventh day in a row that Texas saw more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases in a single day, bringing the total number of known cases to 43,851.”https://t.co/17HwwVNz22— Sanho Tree (@SanhoTree) May 16, 2020
A secret recording revealed that Republican Governor Greg Abbott told Texas lawmakers in early May that reopening businesses would "lead to an increase" in COVID-19 cases. The recording was first posted by the Quorum Report.
How do we know reopening businesses won't result in faster spread of more cases of COVID-19? Listen, the fact of the matter is pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening — whether you want to call it a reopening of businesses or of just a reopening of society — in the aftermath of something like this, it actually will lead to an increase and spread. It's almost ipso facto. ... The more that you have people out there, the greater the possibility is for transmission.A spokesperson for Abbott confirmed that the recording was authentic.
Manny Garcia, the executive director of the Texas Democratic Party:
Republicans are not here to protect you or your family. Governor Abbott finally admitted that prematurely opening Texas is going to lead to more cases and more deaths. ... What Texas Republicans say in public yet again doesn't match what they say in private ... He knew people would die after reopening Texas, and now, he needs to own it.Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang, an epidemiologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, stated he was "particularly concerned" about Texas, "where cases have been rising steadily and the potential for explosions seems high."
Glenn Smith, a strategist at Progress Texas:
Gov. Abbott is trying to normalize an increase in cases to make people think the illnesses and deaths are not surprising. He wants to say this isn't news. Really? There is no bigger news than a government leader confessing to us that there will be an increase in illnesses and deaths from his actions. Texans are concerned for their families, neighbor and communities, yet Gov. Abbott plows ahead while following orders from Donald Trump.More than 75% of Texas voters support stay-at-home orders for non-essential businesses.
When a team of 23 researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, working on COVID-19 projection models, predicted a rise in the state's cases and fatalities in late May and June, the research team was ordered to stop its work and Republican Governor Doug Ducey pushed forward with plans to reopen restaurants and beauty salons, saying the state was "headed in the right direction".
Joe Gerald, a member of the modeling team: "Scientifically, no, it's not safe to reopen unless you're planning on shutting down again after a couple of weeks." ... Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick: "We can't just remove scientific data and bury facts when it contradicts an agenda or narrative."
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema: "The governor's choice to disregard the science that should be the basis of Arizona public health policies — and the White House's guidelines for reopening — is concerning and disappointing."
Rep. Ruben Gallego told the researchers to "ignore Gov. Ducey's politically-motivated order to stop coronavirus modeling work" and "demand continued access to data".
Arizona State University stated it would do exactly that. "Moving forward, ASU will continue to perform its COVID-19 research, and will make these updates publicly available during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."
Nebraska officials have stopped releasing data on coronavirus infections at meatpacking plants as cases spiked at multiple facilities run by companies like Tyson and Smithfield. The decision was made by Republican Governor Pete Ricketts.
Through the first week of May, Nebraska officials reported 96 infections at a Tyson plant in Madison, 123 at a Smithfield plant in Crete and 237 at a JBS plant in Grand Island. Then the updates suddenly stopped.
Vy Mai, who lost her grandfather to the coronavirus after her uncle and aunt were exposed at the Smithfield plant, questioned the secrecy.
What are you hiding? If the 'essential' workers are being treated fairly and protected at meatpacking plants, why aren't we allowed to know the numbers?Meatpacking plants have seen some of the worst outbreaks in the country. A third of the 30 counties with the most infections per capita have large meatpacking plants. Four of those countries are located in Nebraska.
The decision sparked anger among members of the United Food and Commercial Workers, the union which represents many of the workers. Union chief Mark Lauritsen:
Governor Ricketts is taking steps to conceal testing results from the communities and workers that need it the most. This is a wrong decision at the wrong time. Workers, communities and companies all deserve this information so that we can make these essential workers as safe as possible. Transparency and honesty builds trust, ensures safety and keeps the food system functioning.Florida
Nebraska is not the only state which has tried to stop the flow of data while demanding workers return to their jobs. Florida officials have instructed medical examiners to stop releasing death data after the numbers showed more fatalities than those reported by the state.
The Trump administration has also tried to stem the flow of information about the virus. The White House buried a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending tougher restrictions during reopening phases and warned of a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Trump and Dr. Deborah Birx have pressured the CDC to change how it counts virus-related deaths. Dr. Anthony Fauci, another member of the task force and the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases testified to the Senate this week that, if anything, deaths have been undercounted.
Last month, South Dakota was one of five states that had not issued stay-at-home orders. By mid-April, it had one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the United States, when more than 300 employees at Smithfield Foods' Sioux Falls facility tested positive for coronavirus. The facility is now closed indefinitely.
Republican Governor Kristi Noem maintained it was up to individuals, not the government, "to exercise their right to work, to worship and to play." She also said South Dakota would be the first state to test hydroxychloroquine for treating and preventing COVID-19. The drug, which even Donald Trump has stopped hyping, has been shown in other trials to have no effect on the virus while producing an array of side effects, including death.
Forbes reported that South Dakota's
population is poorer, has less access to healthcare and at greater behavioral health risk, including a large portion of chronically underfunded Native American reservations, according to the South Dakota Department of Health, which could lead to severe COVID-19 cases. The onset of coronavirus in rural communities is a cause of concern as their hospitals are likely less equipped to handle COVID-19 and have been shutting down.Smithfield Foods processes meats under their own brand and for companies like Nathan's Famous, Cracker Barrel, Farmland, Armour, Kreschmar, John Morell, Healthy Ones, and many more.
Hall County has seen an explosion of COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, as the Republican-led state began taking steps to reopen businesses.
More than 400 workers at a Tyson poultry plant tested positive, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Republican Governor Brian Kemp has faced criticism for moving ahead to reopen bowling alleys, nail salons, movie theaters, and tattoo parlors.
Mobile testing sites in the state were temporarily shut down due to problems with reporting. The state guaranteed test results in 72 hours, but has not kept that promise. One Atlanta flight attendant said she had been waiting for her results for more than a week.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms criticized people for gathering at malls and parks, warning that "the only thing that's changed about COVID-19 is your chance of catching" it.
Albany Mayor Bo Dorough, whose city has been the state's hardest-hit region, criticized Kemp for reopening the state. "Georgia had not met any of the benchmarks that were set forth by the White House." ... Savannah Mayor Van Johnson told CNN that the reopening was "reckless, premature and dangerous."
At the Smithfield plant in Arnold, Pennsylvania, 12 employees tested positive for coronavirus. The location remains open. The FDA said there is "no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19". ... Well, okay then.
A one-time check for $1,200 might be better than $0, but it is not much money when someone is out of work for months. Maybe it could pay a portion of one month's rent. ... When asked about the possibility of a second round of stimulus checks from the federal government, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy (a Republican) said:
Well, people in hell want ice water, too.Two years ago, Kennedy's wealth was estimated at $6.4 million.