In California, containment heightens social inequalities

To fight against the coronavirus and the Covid-19 pandemic, California, one of the richest American states, woke up confined, Friday March 20, after the implementation of a general ban on going out on the model of what has been done in Italy or France. Schools, non-essential stores, restaurants and cafes are now closed across the state, after some counties had already taken similar action in dispersed order in recent days.

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In the heart of Silicon Valley, in Palo Alto (where Facebook is headquartered) or Mountain View (where Google is headquartered), most large Internet companies had already implemented near-general telework for the past week. Some have even taken exceptional measures to help their employees and even their subcontractors, who are usually much worse off than employees of large groups. Facebook has announced that its subcontractor moderators, laid off by confinement, will continue to receive their salary.

But not all employees are housed in the same boat. Several CEOs of new technology companies have caused a scandal in recent days, saying that containment was unnecessary, even that the panic around the Covid-19 was unjustified, and forcing their employees to come to the office rather than telecommute .

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, wrote to his employees to tell them that they had "More likely to die in a traffic accident than coronavirus", after publishing a message on Twitter claiming that "This panic around the coronavirus is stupid". The Almeda County Sheriff's Office finally intervened to call Tesla factories to order, who asked their employees to keep coming.

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Michael Saylor, CEO of Microstrategy, an economic intelligence company with 2,000 employees, sent a message to all of its employees saying it would be "Depressing and mindless to adopt this idea of ​​social distancing and economic hibernation", and that it was necessary to “Continue to work from our offices to maintain our productivity. "

Layoffs and stars in their mansions

For precarious workers, now confined, layoffs are raining in Southern California, as the Los Angeles Times, who finds that many employees of cafes and restaurants are turning into disaster in home deliveries, after losing their jobs.

But the delivery people, Uber drivers and other employees of the "Gig economy" are hardly better off. In San Francisco, where rents are among the most expensive in the United States and where it is common to share a roommate even when working full time, the inhabitants discover a city at a standstill, and where even rental companies electric scooters, which employed many itinerant "rechargers", have suspended their activities.

The plight of the homeless, very numerous in San Francisco, is of particular concern. The town hall has set up emergency caravans to confine people to the street who show symptoms of coronavirus. Prisons throughout the state, partly run by private companies, have released detainees in advance, or put in place emergency quarantine procedures. The huge San Quentin detention center near San Francisco had to place 1,800 inmates under quarantine after suspicion of several Covid-19 cases.

The very large Chinese community in San Francisco and the surrounding area is also very concerned; "Trump continues to speak of the virus as a Chinese virus, I can't tell you how scary it is when you are Asian American", testified three days ago a surfer on the "California" section of the gigantic Reddit forum.

In this state, which also has some of the country's greatest fortunes, the sour comments against the attitude deemed offensive by the authorities and certain millionaires also provoke much resentment. A video of actor and former California Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, calling, cigar in hand and from its jacuzzi, the students to stay at home, has accumulated hundreds of sarcastic or abusive responses.

More than Silicon Valley, Hollywood seems to be the focus of anger. A video of famous actors, who sing Conceived by John Lennon by videoconference, is among the most commented content, this March 20, on Reddit, under the title: “Quarantined stars sing a world without possessions from their multi-million dollar property. "

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