Gig economy workers have become the Covid-19 pandemic’s first responders

As social distancing and self-isolation become the new normal, gig workers—the delivery drivers and takeout couriers that tech platforms rely on—are still out in full force. And as they navigate the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic, their role has gone far beyond convenience. In a piece for Slate, Alyssa Quart argues that Instacart shoppers, Amazon drivers, and others, are the new emergency workers: Like medical first responders, they’re fulfilling dangerous, societally crucial tasks, risking their personal health to protect most citizens from the worst. The question is, at what cost? How much risk should workers be asked to tolerate without receiving benefits—like health insurance, sick leave, and protective supplies—from the tech companies who profit from their labor, or from the federal government?