Workers from numerous industries have been deemed essential during this coronavirus pandemic, putting them at risk for COVID-19 exposure. For the rest of the Texas workforce, stay-at-home orders were generally supposed to extend till May 8.
But Gov. Abbott let his stay-at-home order expire on April 30, which allowed nearly 30 million people to leave their homes again. Officials from several of Texas’ hardest-hit counties do not agree with this decision, since the risk of infection is still present. For the fourth consecutive day, Texas had 1,000 new confirmed cases on Sunday, and 20 new deaths.
Over the weekend, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed a new stay-at-home order for the county, announcing that all “non-essential businesses and others not ‘reopened’ by Abbott’s order to remain closed until May 20.”
Many non-essential businesses, including restaurants, churches and retail stores, opened May 1, all emphasizing social distancing guidelines.
Workers—especially those living in metro areas—are then put in an odd position: having to go to work, even though it might not be 100 percent safe, because they simply cannot afford not to.
Also on May 1, otherwise known as International Workers’ Day or May Day, many essential workers staged mass sickouts and nationwide protests, bringing attention to the need for better working conditions, pay, and safety protections. Protestors included workers from low-wage jobs, and major companies such as Amazon, Whole Foods and Target, and nurses who wanted more protective equipment and truckers asking for more pay.
Democratic officials like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, and Sen. Cory Booker also posted on social media to show their support.
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