The pandemic has hit essential workers harder

essential workers brazil
Passengers wait to catch a bus in Marília, São Paulo. Photo: Alf Ribeiro/Shutterstock

Essential workers who were not allowed to stay home during the pandemic — including cashiers, gas station attendants, bus drivers, and several others — are dying more and more in Brazil. 

According to a survey published by news website El País Brasil, using data from the Economy Ministry, deaths among gas station workers between January and February of this year jumped 68 percent in comparison to the same period in 2020 — before Brazil had registered its first coronavirus-related death.

In 2020, Brazil recorded over 275,000 more non-violent deaths than expected for the year, giving an “excess death” rate of 22 percent. The analysis of how many employment contracts were terminated due to worker deaths signals how big of a toll the pandemic has had on essential workers, who often have regular contact with the public.

deaths brazil covid19
Source: Conass

President Jair Bolsonaro — an adamant opponent of lockdown-like measures — said recently that he planned to issue a decree enhancing the list of activities deemed as essential — which he defines as “anything which helps citizens bring bread to the table.”