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Labor Day Weekend Will Set The Standard For Coronavirus Cases In The Fall 

As fall approaches in the US, healthcare experts are gearing up for a new surge of coronavirus cases as dropping temperatures and the upcoming flu season will create a whole new level of risk for possible infection. Beyond that, Labor Day weekend will present its own set of challenges, as we saw with Memorial Day Weekend, many Americans blatantly disregarded health and safety procedures to celebrate the holiday weekend.

As of right now the United States is experiencing 40,000 new Covid-19 cases every day; which is twice the number of daily cases from the spring during Memorial Day weekend. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s coronavirus advisor, recently spoke with the media about the upcoming weekend and expressed his concerns. 

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“We don’t want to see a repeat of the surges that we have seen following other holiday weekends. We don’t want to see a surge under any circumstances, but particularly as we enter into the fall.” 

According to data collected from Johns Hopkins University, average daily new cases are up by at least 5% in over 20 states. This rate combined with the holiday weekend has experts referring to Labor Day as an “accelerator weekend” in terms of new Covid-19 cases that are likely to appear as a direct result of individual celebrations. 

Fauci believes that many states aren’t prepared at all for how much worse this pandemic can get in the fall. As we approach Halloween and Thanksgiving, Fauci claims that seasonal influenza will have officially taken over in our nation’s schools and other establishments that are reopening, which will create an even more dangerous environment for Covid-19 to easily spread; the virus thrives on weakened immune systems. “People can let their guard down, that will make behavior and all the other stuff so much harder to manage as we go into November and December.”

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Dr. Syra Madad is a senior director of the system-wide special pathogens program at New York City Health and Hospitals, and recently claimed that the country is nowhere close to where it needs to be heading into the holiday weekend. She also expressed her concern over the intense hurricane season that the US is enduring, as these massive natural disasters are causing thousands of individuals to evacuate their homes, enter into public spaces, and try to find shelter while maintaining proper health and safety protocols. 

All healthcare experts have the same general opinion about celebrating the holiday weekend; don’t. However, if you are going to celebrate, they recommend you do it in a small group in an outdoor setting where proper social distancing can take place. Keep the gatherings relatively short as well, as after a few hours individuals will likely get more comfortable and closer to one another. 

“Keep it small. Keep it outside. And you don’t have to spend six hours together. Do it a few hours, have a couple of burgers, sit apart, and it’s probably reasonably safe. But have a plan for if it starts raining.”

Epidemiologists across the country are gearing up to closely watch the Covid-19 case data within the coming weeks. When it comes to a potential vaccine, Fauci says that right now the focus is on improving treatment options, and organizing strategies to ensure the US is receiving proper testing, tracing and isolation procedures.

Labor Day

What Labor Day is Really About

When most of us think of Labor Day, we think of back-to-school sales and having one last summer barbecue before the unofficial end of the season. But while many of us have a vague understanding that the federal holiday has to do with the labor rights movement in the United States, few of us fully appreciate the history behind the holiday, and how that history affects labor in this country today.

While the specific details about the origin of Labor Day have been disputed, the holiday traces its roots to the Industrial Revolution, a period of American history in which advances in technology had a substantial impact on society, as cities exploded in size and agricultural communities began to fade away. During the late 1800s, an increasing number of people worked in factories, mills, and mines. The working conditions for laborers in these fields was abysmal; the average American worker worked 12-hour days, seven days a week, just to make enough money to live. Additionally, these workers often lived in crowded, unsanitary, and unsafe tenement houses, which often lacked running water and other basic amenities. In the workplace, little concern was given to safety, as machinery had the potential to cause injuries, including dismemberment, and employees had little access to fresh air and breaks. Even worse, many of these employees were children, some as young as 5 years old.

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It was in the context of these living and working conditions that the labor movement began to emerge. Workers started to form unions, which would go on strike and rally in order to put pressure on employers to increase wages, reduce hours, and improve conditions. Employers were reluctant to take any actions that would cut into their profits, however, and resisted the demands of unions, oftentimes firing workers who organized and led unions or punishing them by other means. Occasionally, the tension between worker and employee would become so great that it would lead to violence, such as in the Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which a number of Chicago workers and policemen were killed. The first Labor Day parade was held on September 5th, 1882, when 10,000 workers took time off from work to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City.

The idea of a holiday to celebrate the working man, taking place on the first Monday in September, spread to industrial communities across the country, and several states passed laws recognizing the holiday. However, Congress did not recognize the holiday until 1894, after the American Railroad Union called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars in order to protest wage cuts and the firing of representatives of the union. The federal government sent the military to Chicago in order to break the strike, which led to riots in which over a dozen workers died. In an attempt to reconcile with laborers in the aftermath of the violence, President Grover Cleveland signed a bill recognizing Labor Day as a federal holiday into law. The original founder of Labor Day remains unknown.

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Of course, the struggle to improve working conditions in America did not end there. Though Labor Day was recognized by the federal government by the end of the nineteenth century, that recognition was largely symbolic, as employers remained relatively free to treat their employees as poorly as they pleased without breaking the law. Workers continued to protest and lobby for legislation protecting their rights, and on September 3rd, 1916, the Adamson Act was passed, which established a standard eight-hour workday for railroad workers, with additional pay being required for overtime. After this law was passed, railway companies refused to follow it, claiming that it was unconstitutional, until the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law the following year. The success of this law led to similar efforts from other industries to pressure governments to pass legislation benefiting workers, and in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed, which extended the eight-hour workday to other industries, created “time-and-a-half” pay for people who worked more than forty hours a week, established the right to a minimum wage, and placed restrictions on the type of work minors were allowed to do. 

Although a tremendous amount of progress has been made in securing workers’ rights, there are still areas that can be improved upon. Most notably, not every job pays time-and-a-half for overtime, as some industries and types of work are exempt from laws requiring employees to pay extra for hours beyond forty a week. Some jobs which have become popular in recent years, such as driving for Uber, lack the same protections of other jobs as workers are labelled as contractors rather than employees. And over the past several years, labor unions have been under an increasing amount of pressure, as only 10.5 percent of American workers belong to unions, whereas in the 1950s more than a third of American workers did. And, ironically, Labor Day is one of the busiest days for retail outlets, as many employees are expected to work overtime in order to meet demand created by sales. So this Labor Day, in between shopping, barbecuing, and picnicking, take some time to consider the history of the labor movement in this country.



Train Commute

What To Expect For Your Labor Day Weekend Commute

More than 30 million American’s are predicted to be travelling by car at least 50 miles each way for their extended weekend festivities. The motivation behind it all is a partly cloudy weekend with temperatures staying at a steady 80 degrees, the perfect way to say goodbye to summer.