Defense industry executives are being forced to choose between risking employees’ health by sending them into factories amid the coronavirus outbreak, or missing the delivery deadlines in their Pentagon contracts.
Initially, many contractors welcomed the federal government’s March 20 declaration that the defense industrial base is a critical part of America’s infrastructure, and that a good portion of its employees would be “expected to maintain their normal work schedule.”
But just four days later, as the COVID-19 death toll rises and state after state announces stay-at-home orders, it has become clear that normal work schedules aren’t generally advisable — or even possible.
Do the United States and Iraq, joined at the hip in tragic and mistake-prone war for most of the past 17 years, have a future together? As Iraq seeks to form a new government, its parliament is on record recommending that U.S. forces be expelled in the aftermath of the early January killing of Iranian terror mastermind Qassam Soleimani.
Those tensions could again be inflamed by the Amerian and allied retaliation, early on March 13, for recent rocket barrages against foreign forces in Iraq by Iranian-backed militias that killed two Americans and a Brit.
Over the following weekend, another round of barrages occurred, with the potential for yet more American retaliation. The partnership appears to be in peril.
An aggressive response aimed at improving the availability of testing, equipment, emergency supplies, hospital capacity, and treatment is paramount for public health and the well-being of Americans.
In addition, as long as there is a widespread outbreak and rapid transmission, economic activity will be curtailed. Therefore, the crucial actions taken to limit the spread of the pandemic will have the greatest impact for both the broader welfare and the economy.
India will begin the world’s largest lockdown on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a TV address, warning citizens to stay inside or risk inviting the pandemic into their homes, and pledging $2 billion to bolster the country’s beleaguered health care system.
“To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out,” Modi said Tuesday night, acknowledging that the 21-day lockdown would be a major blow to the economy, but insisting that the alternative could set the country back 21 years.
The move puts nearly one-fifth of the world’s population under lockdown.
The US could become the new center of the global coronavirus pandemic, according to the World Health Organization, which said case numbers were rising quickly there even as Donald Trump talked of reopening the country for business.
“We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the US. So it does have that potential [to become the centre of the pandemic],” said Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman.
Meanwhile in India, Narendra Modi ordered a 21-day lockdown of the whole country, the world’s second most populous, after researchers warned more than 1 million people could be infected by mid-May.
In a global coronavirus pandemic that has infected about 420,000 people and killed nearly 19,000, delivery drivers like Alvarado have become as essential as first responders, providing food and other basics for millions of people who are isolating themselves under government stay-home directives.
But unlike traditional emergency workers, today’s delivery drivers typically have little or no health insurance, sick pay or job security – and many say they lack even the basics needed to stay safe on the job.
Alvarado said the van he drove wasn’t cleaned before or after his 10-hour shift, nor were the bins holding packages handled by warehouse workers and delivery drivers.
Yet his company offered no gloves or masks, and only sporadically provided hand sanitizer. Under pressure to meet targets for delivery speed and volume, Alvarado and other drivers say they have little or no time to stop and wash their hands.
“I have to pay rent, my truck bills; I have three children to support,” he said.
Mendoza is among thousands here in Laredo, Texas, along the southern U.S. border, who are teetering on the edge of financial ruin as the coronavirus pandemic takes hold – even though Laredo has seen no deaths and confirmed just nine cases by Tuesday evening. That’s a tiny figure compared to thousands of other hard-hit communities.
For an interactive graphic tracking coronavirus in the United States, click tmsnrt.rs/3bmK7N3
In 1873, Walter Bagehot, a prominent businessman in British high society and a journalist who served for 16 years as editor-in-chief of The Economist, wrote a treatise on banking and finance in which he left his most enduring mark on the world.
In “Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market,” he laid out a playbook for policymakers facing an unfolding economic and financial crisis. When up against such a challenge, Bagehot asserted, leaders must enact a policy response that is both swift and large. “By that policy,” he argued, “they allay the panic; by every other policy they intensify it.”
Economic policymakers around the world today find themselves facing an incredible challenge. As the novel coronavirus spreads, governments are swiftly implementing drastic measures to limit the scope of the pandemic, including banning public gatherings, closing national borders and shuttering all non-essential businesses.