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COVID Update May 16: Big businesses, Trump & @senatemajldr McConnell want to open the country badly but they want no risk if it goes wrong.

You should be suspicious.1/
Mitch McConnell will not pass any more Congressional aid for Americans losing income, nutritional aid, states or testing & contact tracing unless he gets 1 thing: waivers for employer liability if you come back to work & get infection from COVID-19.2/
This is unusual & only happens when lobbyists have significant power. The NRA negotiated unprecedented national liability for gun manufacturers in 2005 & it has kept them in business more than anything else they’ve won.3/
We are facing a set of needs without precedent since the Great Depression. But McConnell says he won’t move on the House bill. 4/
In the face of this unprecedented need, the House passed a $3 trillion bill with bipartisan support summarized here.5/
McConnell calls it a “red line” that businesses won’t face liability as they reopen. 6/…
Why should we care if employers negotiate blanket liability? Because it is of a piece with opening before we’re ready. If we were indeed ready, would this be McConell’s redline issue? 7/
“Opening” the country is happening in stages. And businesses that can figure out how to open safely— with testing, distancing, masks, screening, or some combination— will likely soon be able to open. 8/
People will be invited back to work— in offices, restaurants, stores, salons— and other places of business. Businesses, of course, have everything to gain. And we too all would like to get back to work.9/
But what if they open up without screening, testing, masks, or basic cleanliness or safety precautions yet in place? It they let a super spreader in the office? Make people work in too close of quarters to be safe? 10/
Businesses want to open but since everyone anticipates future outbreaks, they’re only willing to open at no risk to them— just their employees. 11/…
The reason this makes no sense is the way to be sure stores & offices only open up when we’re ready is for businesses to wait to open until they can assure a save environment.

If they’re not ready, we should wait a month or two. Not open with all the risk on us. 12/
This is very much the hidden story of the “opening of the economy.”

It compounds the already new phrase of opening the economy— the “voluntary quit.”13/
Many states that declare themselves open disqualify people from collecting unemployment insurance if their employer invites them back & they don’t feel safe going. 14/
130 million Americans have pre-existing conditions, many w vascular conditions or immune system problems. COVID-19 is highly lethal to many of them.

But they have to go to put themselves in danger or they won’t have any way to put food on the table.15/
The US, unlike other nations like Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Vietnam, S Korea, New not opening with a low case count. And without a plan designed to contain cases when they occur.16/
Trump knows it.
McConnell knows it.
CEOs know it.

And they want to open anyway. 17/
It’s all well & good to bravely ask someone else to die so we can have our economy as @BetoORourke so wisely put it to me in this great conversation. Listen here. 18/…
We all take risks in life. And few expect things to be absolutely risk-free.

But people expect and deserve a fair deal. They expect to take responsibility for what they can & others to take their share too. 18/
McConnell will ask for other liability protections in this bill— for medications, for vaccines, for medical devices, ventilators, medical malpractice.

This could become the greatest shift in corporate liability in generations. 19/
And it could be McConnell won’t budge on a penny of aid with the control he has unless Pelosi gives in to his red line. 20/
Of all the places for McConnell to be focused, as he looks ahead to a higher and higher body count, he should be saying “let’s prevent these losses,” instead of saying “let’s prevent this from causing losses.” 21/
We won’t get everything right as we try our best to recover. But once again the country plans to build its success on the backs of those with the least voice & the least choice. /end
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