Mitch McConnell’s preoccupation with release of any liability of corporations during this pandemic is dangerous in a marketplace rife with lies, denials, and corruption.

While the Democrats have passed the Heroes Act in May designed to help workers, local governments, and states with budgets woes, no one has staked out a “no” vote as starkly as Mitch McConnell. Weeks ago, when it was barely a twinkle in Nancy Pelosi’s eye, he asserted that “we can’t pass another bill unless we have liability protections.”

Democrats oppose removing a critical incentive for businesses to keep employees and communities safe. Meatpacking employment, anyone? McConnell is saying that this round of COVID-19 relief should be based solely on this con for his wealthy donors.

The Trump/McConnell approach to this pandemic is to force a “blitzkrieg” reboot of the economy and schools and recklessly gamble on penniless states and municipalities “to go along, to get along”.

Trump/McConnell walking away from responsibility has pushed the burden of pandemic control onto states/school boards with budgets in crisis. Yet McConnell/Republican leadership holds that states shouldn’t get a dime of additional aid unless they agree to liability reform and opening of schools. 

Don’t let Trump/McConnell masks fool you. 

Federal inaction in the past two months has starved essential workers, “expendables”, and compelled governors/mayors/ school boards fearing fiscal ruin and popular uprising to reopen. Just look at Florida, Texas, and Arizona where reopening too soon has been a disaster! 

Further, as McConnell/Republicans see it, some business owners/school districts will hesitate to reopen if there’s a risk that “expendables” who catch Covid-19 on the job will sue them for failing to take reasonable occupational safety precautions.

You’ll notice that the McConnell/Republican call for liability protection is really an admission that in hurrying back to re-open shops, offices, factories, showrooms, and schools – many more Americans will die.

It’s a signal that the risks of rushing to reopen will outweigh the rewards. If it were safe to reopen, McConnell/Republicans wouldn’t need to use this signal to con us to accept the risks and deaths.

Here is an example of why corporations need to be held accountable. Recently, General Manager of WPSDTV, Paxton Media Group, owners of many news outlets in the state, sent a memo to “expendables” that a COVID-19 test could NOT be done without the permission of the management.

When a positive COVID-19 case was discovered at WPSDTV, that memo put a “chill” on testing out of fear of punishment from management for having to potentially miss workdays until receiving a test result. 

”We’re in a life or death situation, and you’re telling us that we have to seek approval to get tested for this? It’s just insanely reckless.” Expendables?

“It’s kind of like we’re playing ‘Red Rover’ with the coronavirus, and this isn’t a type of game you play for fun. Coronavirus is a life or death situation, and we should have been taking this way more seriously,” a WPSD source said. 

“If an employer issued a memo, internal or otherwise, that discouraged employees from getting tested, they have endangered their employees, the public at large, and have violated the ‘Healthy at Work’ guidance that has been published since early/mid-May,” stated Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner of Ky. Dept. for Public Health. 

Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order from May 11, establishing “Healthy at Work” guidance for employers states employers should have all employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms receive a test within 36 hours at a minimum, with employees trained on how to isolate certain cases, and make accommodations for employees at higher risk. 

Public Health Commissioner Dr. Stack said that his department has consistently encouraged employers and employees to isolate and receive testing. 

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet enforces non-compliance of the “Healthy at Work” guidance. Cabinet employees can serve “Orders to Cease Operations” to companies for failing to follow requirements. Bravo! 

Now, Gov. Beshear’s  executive order of masking + social distancing will help protect our school aged children and our essential workers from being “expendables”.

But any way that you slice it, McConnell has signaled his disdain for average Kentuckians and his indifference to the enormous damage that COVID-19 continues to inflict on the Commonwealth each day!

Pass the Heroes Act!

Marshall Ward is a Murray resident who is a member of the Democratic Party. He may be reached at josephmarshallward@gmail.com. n

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