Much to say here. But first take a look at this notice from the Delaware News Guild on Twitter:
Gannett has to do better than this. If your reporters are meant to be in public — reporting on the effects of the coronavirus on the State — you make sure they are protected when they go out. I get that it is difficult to get the disposable masks. But if you — Gannett — can’t supply these masks, you can create policy that gives your employees an allowance so they can buy them on their own. A $50 allowance to each employee is a decent amount that lets them go buy a small number of cloth masks that are adequately protective in environments where social distancing is practiced. Or better, give them a monthly allowance to go buy a supply of the disposable ones so they can use them once then dispose of them (rather than wash the cloth ones). Employers who need their employees to be in public should make sure they are adequately protected to do that.
But you wonder what happened when they were supplying newsrooms at first, then just dropped it. Money is probably what happened. More counter-intuitive thinking from Gannett — who used this crisis to furlough reporters JUST WHEN WE NEEDED MORE INFORMATION. It is difficult to ask subscribers to value the News Journal when we keep seeing all of the ways Gannett does not. So buy your employees masks, Gannett. And stop furloughing them because we need their work.
The other thing that this highlights for me is the fairly quiet effort to try to absolve employers from liability if their employees get COVID 19 on the job. Businesses should be held strictly accountable for their actions that put employees at risk for getting this thing. Just because the government says it is ok for you to open does not mean that the government should be on the hook for an opening that does not accommodate the acceptable distancing, PPE appropriate to the job, routine deep cleaning, etc.
The reason that this is even a thing is that these employers want to open and they want to treat their employees as disposable. We know now, that this economy runs on its working people and on its shoppers — not on the bootstraps crowd. This liability question is a place to start to turn the ship so that people who work for a living are the FIRST people who get protected and accommodated rather than the people who profit off of their labor.
I think this liability issue is going to be a thing and it will be kept as quiet as possible. I think we should be VERY LOUD in telling our Federal delegation that letting employers off the hook with no insistence that they take detailed protective measures (that OSHA gets oversight of) is unacceptable. UNACCEPTABLE.