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COVID's Hidden Toll (2020)COVID's Hidden Toll (2020)

The day that I watched this movie, a new study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington forecast that the death toll in the United States from Covid-19 will more than double by the end of December, from the current 186,800 deaths to 410,000. This is the "most likely" of the three scenarios modeled by IHME; the "worst case scenario" could be over 620,000 deaths. A disproportionate number of these deaths comes from one of the most vulnerable populations — the immigrants and undocumented workers who are the subject of this one hour documentary. The film focuses on two main groups of people, the field workers who harvest our farm produce by hand, and then workers in a meat-packing plant. The federal government has designated these people as "essential workers" who are necessary for our nation's food supply, but they are hardly treated that way. They do not have the luxury of knowledge workers who can shelter in place and work at home; they must go to work in order to pay rent and buy food. Their work places are high risk environments where they are given very little information or protective equipment.  If they complain or stay at home, they will be fired.  They don't go to the doctor or the hospital because they fear deportation. "They say we are essential workers," says one person in the film, "but it feels like we are treated like slaves." I watched this 54-minute Frontline documentary from the PBS website.

Dan Clendenin:

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