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Texas Is Showing the World How to Reopen Cautiously

Source: Bloomberg / Getty

Workers in states free of COVID-19 related restrictions say they have concerns. Often without sick leave and working in low-wage jobs, they say they worry for their health and safety.

Lifting pandemic restrictions pose particular challenges for Black workers in southern states. Black workers are overrepresented in service industry jobs, and over 60% of Black workers live in the south.

With southern governors either lifting pandemic restrictions or failing to enforce them, Black workers are placed in a vulnerable position.

“This just puts us back in a situation where we’re on the frontlines, under the gun again,” said Leo Carney in an interview with the Associated Press.

Carney works as a kitchen manager for a seafood restaurant in Biloxi, MS. Many of the workers in gulf coast restaurants are Black. Carney said workers, including those with pre-existing conditions, were scared.

Eater Dallas shared similar concerns from restaurant workers. A report from the University of California showed food service workers died at a rate 40 percent higher than those in other industries.

Some expressed concern about being able to enforce rules where elected officials rolled back precautions.

Wearing a mask not only protects the individual but also the people they may interact with. Despite what some governors may think, there’s still a pandemic. A new study from the Center for Disease Control showed lack of COVID-19 restrictions can increase the spread of the virus.

The study reinforces the basic mask guidelines. “You have decreases in cases and deaths when you wear masks,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, during a White House press briefing. “And you have increases in cases and deaths when you have in-person restaurant dining.”

As new variants of the disease spread, several governors ordered an end to COVID-19 restrictions. Over the weekend, Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed concern about orders lifting precautions. Chief medical advisor to the president, Fauci said the decisions could lead to a new surge.

Wearing masks and following other precautions help keep cases, deaths, and hospitalizations low. A service industry worker in Texas, Catherine Chambers told Eater Dallas that she quit one of her jobs because customers were no longer required to wear masks.

While vaccine distribution is ramping up, some workers might not fall within an eligible category. “It would have made me feel better if they had vaccinated all the food service workers,” said Chambers.

Anoa Changa is a movement journalist and retired attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow Anoa on Instagram and Twitter @thewaywithanoa.

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