Millions in US at risk of 'water shutoffs' amid layoffs triggered by pandemic

Apr 7, 2020

Millions of Americans risk losing running water if they fall behind with bill payments in coming months, as mass layoffs triggered by the coronavirus pandemic force families to make impossible tradeoffs on paying household expenses.

Around two-fifths of the country rely on water utilities which have not suspended the policy of shutoffs for non-payment, despite public health warnings that good hygiene – specifically frequent hand washing – is crucial to preventing spread of the highly contagious virus, according to data analysed by Food and Water Watch (FWW) and the Guardian.

The virus has spread exponentially in the past month with 336,912 confirmed cases in the US as of Sunday, including 9,615 deaths, according to data collated by the New York Times. An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Americans are expected to die from Covid-19 complications, even if mitigation measures like good hygiene and social distancing are fully implemented.

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