AUSTIN, Texas - Sean Forkner's job is to make sure construction job sites are safe.
“We're on job sites every day, trying to make sure contractors are doing what they are supposed to be doing, following protocol,” he said.
When the COVID-19 threat hit Central Texas, he had to add some other protocols to his checklist. He says not every worksite has been following the rules.
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“We visit those job sites daily and you don't get the same level of compliance,” he said.
One of the common issues is workers not wearing masks. On Monday, the Austin Emergency Supply foundation, The Consulate General of Mexico, along with city leaders began to distribute 420,000 masks, to be given to construction and other essential workers.
“I am proud to be in Austin at this time, and witness how people of this city, from the leaders to the carpenters, and construction workers, to the church all join forces to help each other,” said Pablo Marentes, consul general of Mexico.
The emergency supply foundation consists of local small business owners, who have already helped donate four million masks to first responders. Now city leaders say getting these masks to construction workers is another major need.
“They’re doing essential critical work, often without the level of protection they deserve,” said councilmember Greg Casar.
COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting people of color in the city, and they believe getting these masks to these essential workers can help fight disparities
“We know Latinos are making up about 2/3 of the people sent to the hospital with COVID-19, even though we are a third of the population. We know black folks in Austin are facing hospitalization at a disproportionate rate,” said Casar.
“These are our community's economic first responders, the people that are at the intersection of the health hazard crisis and the economic crisis,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
Although some city leaders are nervous about the reopening pace for Texas, they want to make sure those on the frontlines are protected at all costs during this pandemic.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. Every weekday we're live at 12 p.m. with a special show reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.
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