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Coronavirus Continues to Spread, But No Enforceable Health Standards Are Forthcoming


Welcome to the latest edition of “Corporate Accountability, Not Immunity,” a daily tipsheet highlighting key news and important facts on why Congress should not give corporations legal immunity from coronavirus-related harms to workers, consumers, patients and the public. Also refer to our tipsheet on misleading claims from industry groups and conservative lawmakers. Please send tips, feedback and questions to David Rosen at drosen@citizen.org.

WORKERS THROUGHOUT THE FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN REMAIN AT RISK: A BuzzFeed investigation revealed the extent to which the coronavirus – and our nation’s inadequate response to it – has infected, sickened and even killed workers throughout our food supply chains. From fields to slaughterhouses to grocery stores, many companies have failed to require masks, build protective barriers or arrange testing until after an outbreak occurs. Some workers still do not get sick pay, forcing them to choose between spreading the virus or missing out on paychecks – that is, between feeding all of us or protecting their own health and families. Employers throughout the food supply chain must be accountable for risking the lives of workers who make our meals possible.

CDC GUIDELINES REQUIRE NOTHING: In response to the plans of the Trump administration to hold a fireworks display at the National Mall on July 4, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser expressed concern that the administration was not seeking to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Instead, President Donald Trump recommended wearing masks, but not social distancing. Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary, noted: “The C.D.C. guidelines, I’d also note, say ‘recommended,’ but not required.” McEnany’s statement is a reminder that the administration has issued no enforceable standards for businesses, or anyone else, to keep people safe. Legal immunity for businesses makes no sense when existing guidelines require virtually nothing of them.

COLLEGE FACULTY FRIGHTENED OF TEACHING IN-PERSON: Thousands of instructors at American colleges and universities have told administrators in recent days that they are unwilling to resume in-person classes during the pandemic. Yet more than three-quarters of colleges and universities have decided that students can return to campus this fall. If colleges and universities reopen prematurely, students, faculty, administrators and staff alike will face risks to their health and safety. As a group of students recently told Congress, maintaining accountability is crucial to ensuring that schools take all reasonable steps to keep everyone safe.