photo by Cassiano Psomas
In Chicago and across the nation reopening efforts have begun in the wake of the first round of the Coronavirus pandemic. The greatest burden, however, seems to be put on the workers at different establishments. Public and private, workers are reporting now more than ever difficulty feeling safe amidst working conditions incentivizing the return of the general public.
Many states are lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions on social and business activity that were put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. Questions linger, however, about whether some states meet criteria set by public health experts and the federal government for doing so.
According to ProPublica, analysis of the data confirms most people’s fears. States like Florida, Texas, and Alabama that either had no stay-at-home order or have recently eased restrictions are seeing considerable rise in cases in recent days.
This is rising tensions amongst workers who want to stay safe and consumers who grow tired of being at home.
In the public sector, Mayor Lightfoot has made it clear in a recent video that Chicago will be making further moves to reopen, including seeing libraries open. This was concerning to some when it was floated back in May and is continuing to be hard on library employees now.
Scapi reported back in May about a letter on social media from a Chicago Public Library worker that was going viral. The source asks to stay anonymous fearing career repercussions but speaks to the dynamic between library administration and workers.
One librarian took to twitter to point out how conditions are now that the library has opened. As she points out, the library has taken multiple precautions to make employees feel safe but in practice circumstances have not met expectations.
The entire thread is a very valuable read, as it provides insight into how libraries have become a catch-all for much needed social work in the city of Chicago.
“The most important things we’re providing are the social services: employment and food services, access to the internet so that people can reach out to support nets and apply for jobs and help,” the thread reads. “Places for our homeless patrons, travelers, and those from dangerous homes to rest.”
Despite this, reopening efforts in Chicago and across the nation do not seem to be slowing down. The stock market is on the rise, retail sales rose significantly in May, and all that most have to say is when can the rest of the economy return to normal.
The reality might not be that simple.
Daniel Johanson (he/him) is a journalist and digital media specialist living in Chicago, Illinois. He serves as Editor-in-Chief at Scapi and in that capacity manages all things content, including writing and editing articles and producing digital content. His most recent work includes the docuseries Heart of a Nation: Tracking Socialism in the Midwest and co-hosting the podcast Scapi Radio. He spends his free time with cats.