Evilin Cano was dismantling a rooftop skating rink in Manhattan’s Seaport district when her construction crew was notified that the venue would be closing, along with much of New York — and that she would be out of a job.
The next night, the 33-year-old undocumented day laborer from Guatemala fell ill with a fever. Her head pounded. Her throat hurt. She could not stop coughing or vomiting. And she was short of breath. She does not know whether she has covid-19 because three hospitals told her not to bother coming in for testing unless she’s gasping for air.
“They told me to stay at home, don’t go out, and when I can no longer breathe, call 9-1-1 for them to pick me up,” Cano said.
The collapse of the U.S. economy brought about by the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the extreme vulnerabilities of millions of undocumented workers like Cano, who are disproportionately employed in industries undergoing mass layoffs as well as high-risk jobs that keep society running while many Americans self-isolate at home.