Nice Time (ON OPPOSITE DAY) Coronavirus Quick Bites For March 30, 2020

Last week, we told you how Hobby Lobby's leadership had a conference call with God, who informed them that everyone should keep working during the coronavirus pandemic because He had their back. Unfortunately, God isn't an infectious disease expert. The Oklahoma-based crafts store shut down its stores in the state finally after Gov. Kevin Stitt closed non-essential businesses. It wasn't long before the oh-so-Christian organization started firing employees via email. Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green is worth little morally but his bank balance is estimated in the billions. Couldn't he float payroll for a while? That's what Jesus would do, but his broke ass didn't know the first thing about business.

Employees not outright fired will have their pay reduced between 10 and 25 percent for the next two weeks. Afterward, they get to burn through their accrued personal and vacation days. Hobby Lobby's hourly employees earn 48 hours of personal time a year and salaried employees receive 48 hours of paid sick leave. Facebook is more generous, and Mark Zuckerberg doesn't show off his personal hickeys from God.

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, announced last week that he was reopening the school and requiring professors to return to campus. Liberty University is in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Gov. Ralph Northam has advised residents to stay at home. He's also closed K-12 schools through the end of the academic year. There's no evidence that students and faculty at even the most bible-thumping “college" are immune to the coronavirus. It's unfortunate but not a shock to learn that as of Friday, a dozen Liberty students were sick with symptoms consistent with the coronavirus. Falwell said Sunday that students arriving on campus will now be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. It's unsure how Liberty will pull that off. How would students isolate from other students if they live in a dorm? Almost all the residence halls have either a shared bath or a community bath. That's a coronavirus breeding ground. Let's hope Falwell has the sense to close the school before someone dies.

Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus bill Friday with 15 morons crammed into his clown car office. Meanwhile, an Austin, Texas, company was strategizing how to fuck over their employees. An employee at the company, who wished to remain anonymous because they work for ghouls, said management emailed a form to workers called "Employee Acknowledgement of 'Government Assistance' Pay Reduction.

"In response to the economic crisis that is affecting all of us due to the coronavirus pandemic…(company name redacted) are hereby enacting the Employee Emergency Compensation Fund," the letter stated.

The company's workers would receive a "temporary compensation reduction that is in line with the assistance that it receives from the federal government related to the COVID-19 pandemic." The company's employees could either sign the agreement and have "their paychecks between April 6 and April 20 cut by 100% of any money received under the stimulus bill" or not sign the agreement and likely have their employment terminated. That's why you need unions, but Texas is a “right-to-work" state, which is as perverse a euphemism as “pro-life." It just means companies can fire you for practically any reason, including not letting them profit from a taxpayer-funded stimulus.

United Airlines was happy to accept its bailout bucks, but it can't guarantee it still won't fire everyone later this year. A letter signed by CEO Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby warned employees that they should prepare for the worst.

And, based on how doctors expect the virus to spread and how economists expect the global economy to react, we expect demand to remain suppressed for months after that, possibly into next year. We will continue to plan for the worst and hope for a faster recovery but no matter what happens, taking care of each of our people will remain our number one priority. That means being honest, fair and upfront with you: if the recovery is as slow as we fear, it means our airline and our workforce will have to be smaller than it is today.

Hey, maybe UA should've just gone under and every taxpayer cent it received could've gone directly to its employees.

Gina Raimondo, governor of Rhode Island — a state that doesn't want you around even during the best of times — tried to sic the National Guard on any New Yorkers who fled to her state during the pandemic. She had folks going door-to-door looking for New Yorkers. State police were pulling over cars with New York license plates (presumably looking for any containers of Manhattan clam chowder). (Actually, Robyn reports that Rhode Island eats both Manhattan and New England clam chowder, but also "Rhode Island clam chowder," which she doesn't want to discuss.) Any New Yorkers “caught" would be ordered into 14-day quarantine.

"Right now we have a pinpointed risk," Raimondo said at a news conference Friday. "That risk is called New York City."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the order “unconstitutional" and “reactionary." He even threatened to sue.

CUOMO: I spoke to the governor of Rhode Island yesterday, and we had a conversation. I don't think the order was called for, I don't believe it was legal.

After their conversation, Raimondo revised the executive order to a more general “keep the fuck out" stating that "any person coming to Rhode Island from another state for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days." This excludes public health, public safety, or healthcare workers.

Finally, Joel Freedman is officially the worst person on Earth who isn't Donald Trump. Freedman owns the former Hahnemann Hospital, a 500-bed medical center that's sitting around empty. It's ideal for treating the incoming crush of coronavirus patients, but Mayor Jim Kenney gave up after wasting time negotiating with Freedman, who demanded $6 million for a six-month lease. Freedman insists that he was generously offering a below-market rate, but it might've been a better demonstration of brotherly love to just rent it for what the city could immediately afford.

[The New York Times / KXAN / One Mile At A Time / New York Post / NBC Philadelphia]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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