It has highlighted the class divide that globalization produces within countries such as America as well. The highly educated professional classes can work from home, and their jobs are relatively secure; the service class, on the other hand—the waiters and cooks and hotel maids and retail clerks and others — are out of their jobs and shit out of luck. Not to worry: the professional class will write all of them checks for $1,200. Let them eat cake, you know?
In our nation’s capital region, DC and its suburbs, the divide is especially pronounced. Just before DC’s mayor and Virginia’s governor issued stay-at-home orders, practically all businesses had already shut down voluntarily. But I ventured out to the city one day and was surprised by what I saw: while the professionals had disappeared — the lobbyists and think-tankers and journalists and other non-essential workers — groundskeepers and maintenance staff were out in force, as many of them or even more than usual, tending to decorative greenery and the facades of the professionals’ buildings. I took the Metro, the DC subway, back home, and noticed that two things had changed. The trains were less crowded than normal but actually more crowded than they had been a week earlier: this was because the Metro system was running fewer trains, which logically enough meant that people who still had to go to work were packed onto the few that were still running. Those people who still had to go to work, or to use the Metro for other reasons, were not the white professional commuters, but mostly black and Hispanic service workers: maintenance men and others.
“We cannot and will not lift restrictions like one turns on a light switch,” Northam said of moving onto the first phase of recovery, which he called “Phase One.”
“Easing too much too soon could jeopardize public health and consumer confidence,” he said.
Phase One, state officials said Friday, still will involve keeping some businesses closed, while others reopen under “strict safety restrictions.”
Phase One also will involve “continued social distancing, continued teleworking [and] face coverings recommended in public,” according to an outline of the plan made public Friday.
How long that phase will last is unclear, but State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver said he expects it to be in effect until “medical countermeasures” like a treatment or vaccine are rolled out broadly.
“I, personally, think Phase One will be a two-year affair,” Oliver said. “There are a lot of people working on this, and I hope they prove me wrong, but I don’t see it happening in less than two years.”
Businesses closed for two years in Virginia? What could go wrong?
Elsewhere in “Joe Biden’s America:” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Provides a Lesson in What States Shouldn’t Do To Stop a Pandemic.