When the novel coronavirus COVID-19 started to spread in the U.S., hand sanitizer became a hot commodity. Stores sold out of the product needed to clean your hands while on the go to prevent catching and spreading the virus. But, did you know that a Latina nursing student in the 1960s created hand sanitizer?
Lupe Hernandez, a nursing student in California in 1966, is the woman behind hand sanitizer.
Hernandez was in nursing school in Bakersfield, California when she thought about a gel form of rubbing alcohol. Hernandez realized that a gel form of alcohol would make it possible for people to clean their hands while on the go with no access to water and soap.
Hernandez knew she was on to something so she reached out to an invention hotline and submitted a patent.
While washing your hands is the best way to avoid contracting COVID-19, hand sanitizer is an important tool for those that still have to work. It is also a good option for people who are still healthy but have to go to the pharmacy, grocery store, or bank.
Hand sanitizer was just an industry product until the H1N1 viral outbreak in 2009.
The 2009 outbreak of H1N1 drove up the demand for hand sanitizer among the public and it was soon packaged for consumers. According to The Guardian, the value of the hand sanitizer market has grown exponentially since the time before and after the H1N1 scare.
In 2018, the global hand sanitizer market value was $2.6 billion. The Guardian reports that the U.S. market value of hand sanitizer was $28 million in 2002 and $80 million in 2006.
Viral outbreaks like H1N1 make hand sanitizer a highly-prized commodity and some people try to profit off that fear.
Matt Colvin faced severe backlash after he and his brother bought out thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer in Tennessee and Kentucky after the first COVID-19 death in the U.S. The two covered 1,300 miles driving through Tennessee and Kentucky buying all of the hand sanitizers they could find in various dollar stores.
The brothers then started selling the hand sanitizer on Amazon for as much as $70 a bottle. Amazon shut them down and the attorney general of Tennessee launched an investigation into them for price gouging. They pledged to donate the product and Tennessee officials are making sure they follow through with the promise.
The COVID-19 health crisis is shutting down governments around the world. The global infection rate crossed 1 million on April 2 and continues to climb. In the U.S., nurses and doctors are facing severe equipment shortages leaving many of the front-line workers vulnerable to contracting the virus, which has already killed more than 5,780 Americans. One nurse shared a heartbreaking video of her explaining why she had to quit her job as the crisis continues to unfold.
Imaris is a nurse in Chicago, one of the cities expected to see a high number of COVID-19 cases.
Illinois has seen an increase in cases recently. The latest numbers from Illinois show that 7,695 have tested positive for COVID-19. There have also been 157 deaths in the state.
According to her Instagram, Imaris is no stranger to the ICU and emergency situations.
As the war rages against COVID-19, hospitals and health care workers are calling for more equipment to help them fight. There is a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) including face masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves. PPEs keep the doctors and nurses safe when they are interacting with and treating sick patients.
The Chicago-based nurse took to Instagram to share her story about fighting COVID-19 and why she had to quit.
Imaris broke down what so many health care workers are currently facing. There is a shortage of the things they need to keep themselves safe. The nurse was most concerned about the lack of masks being given to nurses, 91 percent of whom are women. The lack of basic safety equipment bothered the nurse because she believes it does nothing to protect the nurses. In response, the nurse quit and warned viewers that “America is NOT prepared & Nurses are NOT safe.”
People are showing support for the nurse.
If you know someone working in health care, you understand the concern for their safety. The Chicago nurse says int he video that she is scared of going home to her family without having used the protecting gear all day.
Thank a health care worker today. They could use positive energy.
Spring is peak farming season across the United States and it’s coming just as the Coronavirus is tearing its way across the country – impacting communities across all fifty states. With such a high demand for agricultural workers, thousands of foreign guest workers are descending on farm fields to join a labor force that has endured the hardships of crowded boarding houses, law enforcement raids, and indentured servitude for generations.
But now the workers who are critical to the nation’s food supply will face a nemesis they’ve never encountered.
Because of the Coronavirus, millions of people have been ordered to stay at home – but farmworkers are considered ‘essential workers’ and still have to work.
States like California have told residents to stay home because of the threat of COVID-19, but thousands of farmworkers are still showing up at work — while also worrying that their employers are not doing enough to protect or support them.
More than a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts are grown in California. Stay-at-home orders in California exempt farmworkers as essential employees. But many are undocumented, lack health insurance and don’t qualify for unemployment insurance or federal COVID-19 relief, placing the state’s estimated workforce of 420,000 in a vulnerable position.
So far, employers are doing little to protect or even inform their workers of precautions and protective measures.
According to a statement to NBC News from Armando Elenes, secretary treasurer at United Farm Workers, an overwhelming majority of farmworkers have not heard from their employers. “That’s really discouraging,” he said. “It’s not costing them anything except a little bit of care, a little bit of time.”
“We need to care about these workers that are doing that hard work, heavy work, dignified work, professional work,” said Elenes. “They’re the backbone of the food supply chain.”
Meanwhile, many farmworkers are already considered at high-risk for complications related to a Coronavirus infection.
Farm workers are an ageing labor force facing higher rates of respiratory disease and hypertension: all factors that would put them at greater risk for more deadly Covid-19 complications. And the masks that shield them from dust and pesticides, and that would also protect against the virus, are now in short supply for frontline workers across the world.
If they are unfortunate enough to fall ill with Covid-19, farm workers would qualify for the additional sick leave provided through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the national legislation that expanded paid leave amid the Covid-19 crisis, but most would probably struggle to pay the resulting healthcare costs. Many farm workers have no health insurance.
Organizations across the country are coming to defend farmworkers and demand protections.
The explosive growth of the novel coronavirus prompted one of the nation’s oldest farm labor organizations on Monday to push for new safety standards for thousands of the workers and demand that growers provide medical care during outbreaks.
“If it reaches the agricultural community, it will devastate them,” said Baldemar Velasquez, founder of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. “There won’t be a safety net,” he told Buzzfeed News.
Velasquez, who founded the advocacy group in 1967, said he is requesting that workers abide by social distancing rules, request isolation quarters if they get sick, and ensure their employers take them to hospitals.
If the growers refuse, Velasquez, who has led farm labor strikes, said his group is prepared to file lawsuits. “These are among the most vulnerable workers in the country,” he told Buzzfeed News. “It’s a national problem.”
The recent stimulus bill passed by Congress could offer some hope to a minority of farmworkers.
Lawmakers signed a $3 trillion stimulus package last week to combat the coronavirus. While the aid will help many families, it excludes many farmworkers.
The bill does provide that guest workers receive emergency sick pay — but it’s up to the farmers to provide protections, including social distancing and any facilities they build for quarantine.
If there’s any positive out of this, it’s that people may start caring more about farmworkers rights.
The coronavirus crisis prompted renewed attention to farmworkers’ critical role as residents often find empty supermarket shelves cleaned out by people stockpiling food supplies and sheltering in place.
These workers are essential today to the food supply — they’ve always been, but now there’s a new level of light shining on them. If people are fighting over toilet paper, imagine if they had to fight for food.
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