I consider myself lucky that my only responsibility during a global pandemic is to literally do nothing. Stay home or in the apocalyptic words of Lorrie Moore from the New York Times, “pretend to have died, lie very still, so the virus won’t get us.” But that can’t be said for everyone, which is why those individuals should leave it at that and stop complaining.
It’s frustrating to watch essential workers put at risk while listening to the complaints of others hastily collecting unemployment, some of whom are making even more money on unemployment than those on the frontlines of this wildly unpredictable virus.
And I’m not just talking about healthcare workers. I’m talking about home care workers, grocery and drug store employees, domestic workers, food service workers, government employees, janitorial staff, farmworkers, delivery drivers, warehouse, transit, and child care workers, many of them are doing so without appropriate equipment, safety standards, or job protection.
I, along with over 85,000 others (as of May 2nd), have signed a petition for an Essential Workers Bill of Rights which would ensure basic conditions such as health and safety protections; fair and robust compensation; childcare support; universal paid sick, medical, and family leave; and whistleblower protections (so big corporations like Amazon can no longer fire employees for criticizing warehouse workplace conditions… Yes, that really happened).
I’m ashamed by the way in which the United States government is failing its citizens during such a crucial and devastating time, almost as ashamed as I am to say that I’m not surprised. America is being run by a tweeting, breathing, and blabbering ego, who should feel humbled because we are not as great as he thought, and that’s not tremendous.
Viruses need a living host to reproduce. COVID19 can only survive for so long on exterior surfaces and, in that sense, we are invaluable. But we’re not invincible. Our entire socioeconomic foundation has been incapacitated by a microorganism.
And essential workers are not the only ones who are suffering. Isn’t it safe to say that we’re all struggling in our own way?