March 26, 2020 4 min to read
The impact of coronavirus on immigrant workers
The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus has turned everything upside down. It has taken away our freedom and put thousands, if not millions, of people in-home quarantine. The global economy is suffering. Small businesses are closing because they cannot survive in the next few weeks, and thousands of people are getting infected daily. Although it sounds like an intro of some apocalyptic horror movie, this scenario is our reality these days. Everything has stopped, but not everyone’s quarantine days are Netflix and chill.
Immigrant Workers Can’t Stop Working Despite Coronavirus
While the world is constantly coming up with new challenges and ideas of what to do while staying at home and doing nothing, some people do not have the privilege to enjoy these times. Do you remember that bagel stand where you sometimes buy your breakfast on the way to work or a vendor with the best tacos at the corner of your street? People who work with fast food carts where you usually grab something to eat on the go or a cup of hot coffee are now at the edge.
Those are all mainly immigrant workers who were struggling to survive anyway, but now, when there are no people on the streets, they are jobless. There is nothing on the horizon for them. New York is one of the cities where thousands of immigrants do such jobs. And while the entire city is slowly but surely shutting down, they are still outside. They have no other choice but to try to sell anything, even though they are aware that being outside all the time increases their chances of catching the virus.
Not All of Us Can Work From Home
For immigrant workers who work as street vendors, the last remaining hope are other people who just like them have no other choice but to go out and work. Construction workers can still be spotted all around the town because it is so hard for such a huge industry to stop everything overnight. Also, delivery services are still working and other businesses that are essential and have to keep running.
The economic impact on those people is going to be severe, and the question is how and when they will recover from it. Unfortunately, those who are the most sensitive groups will suffer the most due to this situation. If they are not allowed to go out, they cannot earn enough money. It is that simple.
Is There Any Alternative?
Right now, due to the situation, more and more people opt for ordering something to get delivered to them, and that can be a temporary or transitional solution. Some services are already searching for new bikers who will deliver food and other goods. However, the vast number of these immigrant workers are people who are already in their 50s and 60s, so they are in that age group that is particularly affected by the virus. The majority of COVID-19 cases with fatal consequences are people who are older than 65 years, especially if they are already struggling with some chronic illnesses and health problems.
Is the Government Taking Any Steps?
Since in New York, the situation is critical, the government is trying to find ways to help. The Immigration Association wants all the rents and bills to get suspended and paid sick days extended. But since this situation is going to last longer than two weeks, it is hard to tell if any of these requirements will be pleased. Another more significant problem is immigrants who are not documented, they will probably be hesitant to ask for medical help in case they get infected. The situation is difficult, and right now, we can only hope for the best.
COVID-19, How It Spreads
Home isolation is recommended as the best prevention because we are no longer safe outside. The virus can survive in the air and on surfaces for hours and days. For example, on plastic and stainless steel, it survives for up to three days, that is why it is essential to disinfect all the surfaces and avoid touching anything in public areas.
People can be infected and spread the virus all around without even having any COVID-19 symptoms such as cough or fever. That is why this virus spreads so fast, and currently, there are more than 400,000 confirmed cases all over the world. The US is preparing for the peak, but no one can predict how the scenario will unfold.
The Bottom Line
Since the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19 is a global pandemic earlier this month, a lot of things that we could not have imagined have happened. This virus is changing our lives, and unfortunately, we are not all in the same position. What is important is to try to help as much as we can until the government finds a solution for everyone. If you are renting your place to someone who is an immigrant, consider lowering the rent for a couple of months, or cut out the bills. Any type of help counts.