Businesses behaving badly: Working in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic
It seemed like business as usual at the New Bern Walmart Supercenter on Wednesday.
Moen reopened its New Bern factory on Thursday after an employee there tested positive for COVID-19, justifying the reopening by saying that the bathroom and kitchen faucet maker is an “essential contributor” in the fight against COVID-19.
Hobby Lobby is staying open because, according to widely circulated reports, the CEO’s wife prayed about it.
O’Reilly’s Auto Parts is staying open because people need to keep their cars running and smelling good.
Walmart is staying open because it sells groceries and medications — and kayaks, gardening supplies, clothing, electronics, car parts, books, magazines, etc., etc.
And, during a time when cash-strapped families are forced to stay at home and stretch the limits of their internet plans, Suddenlink is imposing overage fees.
The purpose of Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order, and President Trump’s extended social distancing order, is to take a relatively short pause in life in order to slow the spread of the highly contagious, often deadly novel coronavirus.
Yet places like Walmart, where hundreds of people shop at any given time despite the state and federal orders, are just the kind of places where COVID-19 is likely to spread.
So too is a factory assemby line, where workers spend hours upon hours in close proximity, breathing and coughing and touching the same equipment and dining at the same break room.
Meanwhile, despite wide-spread examples of good will and personal heroism by everything from hospital orderlies, nurses, and doctors, to grocery clerks, to delivery people, as well as mortgage companies and lenders working with cash-strapped customers — there’s Suddenlink.
“Suddenlink Communications is profiting off of data overage charges while we’re forced to stay home,” a New Bern resident reported on Facebook. “This is disgusting. My wife and daughter have to go to school online right now. What do they expect us to do? I just spoke to one of their customer service representatives and she (tersely) refused to waive the fee. Other companies like AT&T have waived these fees. FCC commissioners have asked ISPs to waive these fees. Here they are, profiting from a pandemic. Disgusting.”
Many employees at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts are unhappy with the company’s decision to remain open.
Said one employee, “I also work the counter for oreillys. … “The idiots coming into the store and buying un-essential crap like paint, seat covers, stupid led lights, and all those type things need to get the F on… and because of those idiots, the storefront needs to be closed down to walkins, and only offer curbside service. that way were still open to the essential workers and first responders, not morons buying crap and coughing on me at the counter. The comment about the virus being on incoming freight is a very very good point i had not considered, and needs to be addressed as well, not impressed at all with how its being handled… hazard pay anyone? And as of 3/26/2020, some stores will be closing at 730 it seems… stay safe everyone, good luck.”
Then there are the excuses.
At Hobby Lobby, the CEO said he decided to stay open because his wife prayed about it and “In her quiet prayer time this past week, the Lord put on Barbara’s heart three profound words to remind us that He’s in control. Guide, Guard, and Groom. We serve a God who will Guide us through this storm, who will Guard us as we travel to places never seen before, and who, as a result of this experience, will Groom us to be better than we could have ever thought possible before now.”
Moen, in a statement, said “The federal and state governments consider Moen an essential contributor in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and Moen takes seriously its role in manufacturing plumbing products that provide safe environments.”
Look, people, we can do it one of two ways.
We can stay at home for a few weeks and let COVID-19 wither away, or we don’t, and let it continue to spread, overwhelming hospital systems and killing people.