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Letting Corporations Off the Hook for Unsafe Practices Risks Spreading the Coronavirus Even More


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.

PROTECT WORKERS, NOT CORPORATIONS THAT ENDANGER THEM: The Philadelphia City Council has unanimously approved a bill that would make it illegal for employers to fire, discipline or retaliate against workers who speak up about unsafe coronavirus conditions. If signed by Mayor Jim Kenney, who has expressed his support, Philadelphia will become the first big city in the country to give workers stronger legal protection against this kind of retaliation. New Jersey’s state legislature is considering a similar bill, backed by worker center Make the Road New Jersey. We should be protecting workers, not eliminating their ability to seek compensation for harm caused by employer negligence.

CDC ESTIMATES 10 TIMES AS MANY INFECTIONS AS CONFIRMED: The number of people in the U.S. who have been infected with the coronavirus is likely to be 10 times as high as the 2.4 million confirmed cases, based on antibody tests, Robert Redfield, director of the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. The CDC’s estimate, shared with reporters in a conference call, indicates that at least 24 million Americans have been infected so far. With the pandemic spreading, it is crucial that businesses take reasonable precautions to keep workers and consumers safe – and that workers and consumers have a means of holding businesses accountable when they fail to take those precautions.

TO CONTROL THE SPREAD, PEOPLE – AND BUSINESSES – MUST ACT RESPONSIBLY: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned the country Sunday that coronavirus outbreaks in Texas, Florida, Arizona and other states threaten to spiral out of control without immediate intervention, including the widespread use of masks or face coverings. “The window is closing,” Azar said on Meet the Press. “We have to act, and people as individuals have to act responsibly. We need to social-distance. We need to wear our face-coverings if we’re in settings where we can’t social-distance, particularly in these hot zones.” Businesses too must act responsibly. The potential that they will be held liable if they don’t helps assure responsible behavior.