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COVID-19

How coronavirus is affecting Chinese workers

Kai Ryssdal, Jennifer Pak, and Andie Corban Jan 27, 2020
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Chinese police officers wear protective masks at Beijing Station last week. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
COVID-19

How coronavirus is affecting Chinese workers

Kai Ryssdal, Jennifer Pak, and Andie Corban Jan 27, 2020
Chinese police officers wear protective masks at Beijing Station last week. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Chinese officials announced Monday that they would extend the Lunar New Year holiday in an effort to contain the coronavirus. The virus has killed 80 people and infected 2,800 more at a time of year when millions of Chinese people usually travel to celebrate the holiday.

“Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal called China correspondent Jennifer Pak in Shanghai to hear about how the virus is affecting workers.

Whether workers will get paid for the additional days off depends on their industry, Pak said.

“We know that factory workers will be probably hit the hardest because they don’t get paid unless they work,” she said.

The way workers generally get paid for the Lunar New Year is complicated, according to Pak.

“We call this a seven-day holiday, but in actuality only three days are paid.” The other days are made up by working two separate Sundays. “The government is asking businesses to extend this holiday for another week, so of course that’s going to hit businesses.”

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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