Who gets better COVID protection? CEOs or the frontline workers they employ? Opinion

What does the capitalistic business magazine, Forbes, and the World Socialist Web Site have in common? Answer: Both are pointing out the glaring double standard in COVID-19 precautions given to business CEOs and world business leaders at the DAVOS World Economic Forum, compared to those given to frontline workers which many of them employ.

At the World Economic Forum it was strongly recommended that “participants are vaccinated with the latest available vaccines and take a COVID-19 test before travelling to Davos.”  Once they arrived, all participants had to obtain a PCR test (for many the second test) at the conference’s onsite testing centers. If they received a negative result, their electronic name badge was activated to allow entry into the event. If they were positive, they were locked out. In addition, rapid antigen tests were available throughout the event, free of charge, at the Forum’s testing centers. Masks both surgical and FFP2 (a type of respirator/mask with a 94% minimal filtration rate) were available at Forum’s transport and testing centers, along with hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility. In addition, “state-of-the-art” ventilation systems were installed into areas with poor ventilation. Numerous photographs from the event showed participants wearing coats, a sign of very high ventilation. But no one appeared to be complaining, gladly accepting the minor discomfort for the safety of clean air.     There were also portable air filters at the forum, as illustrated in a picture posted on twitter by India’s  Minister of Health and Family Welfare; Chemicals and Fertilizers, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya during his meeting with Germany’s Federal Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach.

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Big contrasts in protection

The contrast between the availability of these safety measures at DAVOS and those provided to front-line workers is striking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have free N95s or FFP2 masks available for all workers as they travelled on public transportation to their place of employment, a working environment which also had clean air and upper room UV-C germicidal lighting? And then to have the additional availability of masks, and hand sanitizers, along with free antigen tests available for all.      DAVOS is not the only place dual standards are evident. For example: In Australia, the New South Wales’ Parliament had their ventilation system upgraded to provide eight fresh air exchanges per hour while indoor ventilating in too many schools have substandard ventilation and are in need of air purifiers.      I have to admit, this duplicity in the availability of public health safety, is not yet evident in the United States’ Capitol, where there has been a noticeable increase in smoking, possibly making it one of the unsafest governmental buildings in the United States. 

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Why not adopt these safety measures for frontline workers?

Many workers are not clamoring for protections, thinking COVID-19 is just a bad “cold”. But it is a “cold” which has cost well over 1 million US lives and produced a lasting Long COVID disability estimated to cost our economy so far 3.7 trillion dollars. The Government Accountability Office estimates that up to 23 million people in the United States are affected with Long COVID. Ironically, the minimization of the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic is done by the same extreme political organizations which large corporations often support.  CEO’s being safe, workers fending for themselves.

The public is distrusting

No wonder the public is so confused and distrusting. Messaging is conflicting and does not always align with the actions of messengers. For example: One might assume COVID-19 is not a serious matter, since the CDC has reduced the isolation period to 5 days if one becomes afebrile for 24 hours and then wears a mask (no type specified) for another 5 days. Or one might think the COVID-19 is still a disease to take seriously with the WHO recommendations to isolate for 10 days after developing COVID-19 and to have at least three days without fever and respiratory symptoms. But then one could assume we are dealing with an extremely dangerous pathogen with the measures enacted at DAVOS with everyone required to have a negative PCR test when tested on the first day of the event. No wonder the public is confused.    I more align with the DAVOS recommendations. With the dangers of delayed heart disease, memory and disorders cognition, along with post-COVID immune dysfunction, we are dealing with a dangerous pathogen and I have repeatedly given the advice for business owners to upgrade their airflow, patrons to use portable CO2 monitors to estimate air quality and to test before gatherings. If it is good enough for billionaires and Fortune 500 CEOs it is good enough for me.

Kevin Kavanagh is a retired physician from Somerset, Kentucky, and chairman of Health Watch USA. ​​​​​​​
Kevin Kavanagh is a retired physician from Somerset, Kentucky, and chairman of Health Watch USA. ​​​​​​​

Kevin Kavanagh is a retired physician from Somerset, Kentucky, and chairman of Health Watch USA.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Do CEOs get better COVID protection than their frontline employees?