Now that the restaurant where he works full time in the Washington suburbs is closed, server Gerardo Espiell, 23, plans to move back in with his mother and sister to make ends meet. Together, he’s hopeful they can make the mortgage.
“Honestly, it’s kind of crazy,” he says. “I’m very calm about everything. I’m just taking it day by day. I have some PTO (paid time off) saved up, so I’m using my PTO.”
In San Francisco, Anita Reyes, who had her fourth child six months ago, usually waitresses at SanJalisco, the family restaurant owned by her mother, Delores. Her husband works there, too.
“It’s overwhelming,” she says. “I thought I’d come in and help her because she can’t afford the workers. We’re living off this food (in the restaurant refrigerator) right now. We’re taking it home to our families.”
Percy Saloman, who drives for a ride-hailing service in Virginia, is still working, but he’s putting in longer hours for less money.
“Yeah, I’m worried, because right now, this is my second shift, and I only made like $70. And usually, I finish with around $150 or something,” he says.
Saloman, Espiell and Reyes are among millions of American workers in service industries that are among the hardest hit by restrictions imposed by many U.S. states trying to stem the spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19.
Some states are telling people they must stay home. Businesses that are deemed as nonessential are closing.
About one in six workers, some 17% of U.S. employees, could be impacted by social distancing, according to an analysis from Ball State University.
“Four-and-a-half million retail sales folks, 3.5 million food preparation, almost 3.5 million cashiers, 2.5 million waiters and waitresses,” says Ball State University economist Michael Hicks. “So, those numbers add up pretty quickly to about 28 million workers in the United States who are immediately affected by the social distancing measures that have been taken at the federal, state and local level in the U.S … a very vulnerable share of the workforce. These are mostly low wage workers. (They) face almost immediate financial problems.”
Congress is debating a relief package that could include a direct cash payment to U.S. adults.
“I think something like at least a short-term universal basic income that pays everybody $1,000 a month for three, four or five, six months,” Hicks says. “We could collect some of that back in taxes from the better-off, for those of us who are unaffected by this. Those are the sorts of policies that are going to, I think, sustain households through this short-term social distancing that we’re facing right now.”
Money like that could go a long way for some workers.
“That would help a lot, actually,” says Syndi Brooks, a server in the San Diego area. “That would hold me over for a few months.”
The 29-year-old has a 7-year-old daughter. She and her husband, a tattoo artist whose business is also suffering, are living off money they’ve saved.
“I’m worried. I’m lucky to have some savings, and I know a lot of people don’t,” Brooks says. “This wasn’t what we intended to save for. We were intending to save for a house.”
Espiell, the server from Virginia, says help from the federal government could make all the difference, especially with money already being tight.
“Not just me, but, like, everybody in the service industry sometimes live paycheck by paycheck, especially, like, it’s been very slow this winter, too,” he says. “Not a lot of people have been coming out, so, everybody’s trying to save up all that winter money by not going out and all that stuff. Or, like, you know, some people don’t eat.”
Saloman intends to keep driving. Beyond that, he admits to having no plan for his, and his family’s, future.
“So far, the only thing that I can do day by day, is just to keep working longer shifts to be able to provide the same income that I was bringing in before,” he says.
Examining how the COVID-19 has impacted different countries, researchers have found that Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB), could be a potential new tool in the fight against the disease.
The study that appeared in the pre-print repository medRxiv, proposed that national differences in COVID-19 impact could be partially explained by the different national policies respect to BCG childhood vaccination.
The BCG vaccine has existed for almost a century and is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines.
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BCG vaccine has a documented protective effect against meningitis and disseminated TB in children.
It has also been reported to offer broad protection to respiratory infections.
For the study, the researchers compared large number of countries BCG vaccination policies with the morbidity and mortality for COVID-19.
“We found that countries without universal policies of BCG vaccination (Italy, the Netherlands, the US) have been more severely affected compared to countries with universal and long-standing BCG policies,” said the study conducted by researchers from New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) College of Osteopathic Medicine in the US.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US has increased to 142,502, the highest in terms of infections globally, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).
The CSSE data showed that at least 34,026 people have died due to the disease in the country.
In Italy, which is one of the worst affected countries, 10,779 people have died due to COVID-19.
In this latest study on impact of BCG vaccination on COVID-19, researchers also found that countries that have a late start of universal BCG policy, for example, Iran had high mortality, consistent with the idea that BCG protects the vaccinated elderly population.
“There was a positive significant correlation between the year of the establishment of universal BCG vaccination and the mortality rate, consistent with the idea that the earlier that a policy was established, the larger fraction of the elderly population would be protected,” said the study.
“For instance, Iran has a current universal BCG vaccination policy but it just started in 1984, and has an elevated mortality with 19.7 deaths per million inhabitants.
“In contrast, Japan started its universal BCG policy in 1947 and has around 100 times less deaths per million people, with 0.28 deaths. Brazil started universal vaccination in 1920 and also has an even lower mortality rate of 0.0573 deaths per million inhabitants,” the resulst showed.
Iran announced 2,901 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday as the total number of confirmed cases soared to 38,309. Also, the death toll from the disease reached 2,640 in Iran, while 12,391 patients have recovered.
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As the numbers of tuberculosis cases dropped in the late 20th century, several middle high and high-income countries in Europe dropped the universal BCG policy between years 1963 and 2010.
“The combination of reduced morbidity and mortality makes BCG vaccination a potential new tool in the fight against COVID-19,” the researchers concluded.