We’re at about 55,000 deaths, but I don’t know if that includes nursing home deaths, where about a third of the people in them appear to be dying.

Vietnam: Zero deaths

Vietnam appears to have experienced no deaths from COVID-19. Zero. I first heard this from friends there, then it showed up on the Vietnam Studies Group list, and then reports started coming in from ex-pats who confirm the report and as of today, a Reuters report that says the same thing. No deaths.

Less air pollution, too — photos of HCMC with blue skies.

The details about no deaths, the low number of cases, the quarantines, the management of the crisis at the local level, are all reported consistently by various sources. Half the funding to manage the crisis comes from the national and half from provincial governments True, it’s very difficult to identify and track street vendors, other “independent workers,” and migrant workers who have returned to their hometowns. But it’s all consistent with the overall picture. They put all incoming visitors in quarantine camps, everybody’s wearing masks — of which there are plenty; garment factories are making them by the thousands. People are used to wearing masks because of the pollution, of course. Hugging and shaking hands are not typical Vietnamese gestures anyway. They also don’t put their aged in nursing homes, which is where so many deaths are happening here (and those numbers only started getting added today.) The grandmothers and grandfathers are at home with their families. They have a national healthcare system. And they are familiar with mounting vast national campaigns to overcome a threat.

Someone hung this over the tunnel entrance beneath the Arlington Circle. This is not a strike. It is something different. It’s as if the side of a mountain has fallen off and we can see for the first time all the geology — only what is revealed is the reality of work in the US: who is essential, who makes the wheels turn, who gets paid what, who can easily work from home, who has to risk their lives to make a paycheck — and who wants “the country re-opened” and who is going under permanently becuase they don’t have the cash to keep a business open with no customers (smallretail, for example,independent franchises).

This is an article titled Pandemic Job Actions May Push Renewed Labor Movement, from — can you guess? — an insurance journal:


People have been told that they have to apply for unemployment benefits and get denied before they can apply for COVID-19 UI benefits. The lines and websites are jammed.

But now some workplaces are re-opening and that means that even if you don’t want to (or your kids are at home from school because the schools are closed), you have to come back. If your workplace re-opens and you don’t come back to work your employer can fire you for cause and then you won’t get unemployment benefits. The Chronicle today reported a woman with two daughters who were at home and needed supervision to do their homeschooling; she tried to get off work to go pick up a computer for one of them, her employer told her no, told her to come back to work and fired her when she didn’t. Her final paycheck included pay for 22 days of vacation which she had been told she could not use.

Some meatpacking plants in the midwest have closed, leading to headlines about future meat shortages and pig kills, but not all. Packinghouse work is assembly line work, where workers pass a piece of meat from one set of hands to the next.

In California we’re in shutdown for at least another month, through the end of May. Some relaxations coming up. A new treatment, remdecivir, from the pharmaceutical company Gilead, appears to be able to speak to COVID-19 and hastens recovery by a third:

This raised Gilead’s stock value by 5.5% and a general stockmarket boost.

On the other hand:

Published by helenaworthen

Labor educator, retired from University of Illinois, taught at TDT University in Ho Chi Minh City in the Faculty of Trade Unions and Labor Relations. Co-author with Joe Berry of Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the contingent faculty movement in higher education, forthcoming (August 2021) from Pluto Press.

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