Quarantine: A Privilege Few Americans Can Afford
Even though the virus is of equal treatment, the working conditions are not.
Isabel Garcia has recently been given the option of working remotely. However, for the 32-year-old second-generation Guatemalan, the task is proving to be more challenging than she previously imagined. Quarantined in a 2-bedroom apartment with her two children, aged 18 months and four years, enduring a cut of her salary of 35%, her experience has been far from ideal. Her husband Manuel doesn’t even have such ‘luxury,’ since he’s been commissioned to deliver food essentials across the country to a series of supermarket chains. Isabel’s situation is similar to that of millions of Americans: she can’t afford to stay home.
Although COVID-19 is a virus of equal treatment, it does not affect everyone equally. Working conditions fissures in our society are — once again — vulnerable amid this public health crisis. As the world is grappling with the worst pandemic in recent history, privilege is a crucial factor determining who gets to be confined and protected and who doesn’t. The virus is already disrupting the lives of many Americans, especially those who are disabled, homeless, unemployed, underemployed, without healthcare access, lacking child care or without paid sick leave. All of them run the risk of facing, throughout the coronavirus outbreak, severe social and economic hindrances, psychological trauma and even ostracism.
For the past weeks, the pandemic has been illustrating the unsafe conditions of workers across America. For instance, those working in the gig economy industry — often regarded as freelancers — enjoy minimal benefits such as fixed salaries, sick pay and health insurance, all of which are vital for the survival of the outbreak. Carlos Zambrano, has three jobs in California, all of them within the gig economy. He’s a driver for both Uber and Lyft. On his spare time, when he’s not driving strangers up to 10 hours a day, the 28-year-old delivers food on Grubhub and Uber Eats. Since the number of requests has drastically fallen, he barely makes ends, putting him on the edge of unemployment.
According to Labor Department data, only 29% of workers have the privilege of working from home amid the coronavirus outbreak, who are most…