9 pages
Word Count
3542 words
University of Rochester
Course Code
GBA 241

Corporations Responsibilities to the Public in the Face of COVID-19

September 16, 2020
Corporations Responsibilities to the Public in the Face of COVID-19
In the beginning of December 2019, the first coronavirus (COVID-19) cases were
reported in China, and by the end of January, COVID-19 had spread across the world and
reached the United States. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that puts the specific demographics,
such as the elderly, at risk to develop life threatening conditions like pneumonia.
The United States is a country that economically relies on the private business sector.
Currently in April 2020, many corporations are financially struggling and in tough positions
because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many corporations also have the resources to
contribute in various ways that could help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.
In this paper, I will be analyzing the responsibilities corporations have to the public in face of the
COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19’s Effect on Corporations:
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 12,
2020. A pandemic is an epidemic of disease that spreads rapidly from person to person that can
affect large regions and even the whole world. With such a dangerous pandemic like COVID-19,
both the federal government and state governments have implemented guidelines and restrictions
out of interest to protect the public. The guideless and restrictions from the government along
with changes in consumer demands have directly impacted many corporation’s operations and
sales. I have identified three main categories that represent the general situations most
corporations currently find themselves in as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The three
categories are: drastically losing money, gaining money, and in a more “neutral” position. I
argue that corporation’s responsibilities to the public in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic are
dependent on which of the three categories the corporation classifies under, as each of the three
categories have different responsibilities.
Corporations Drastically Losing Money:
Travel bans directly impact many corporations. On January 30th 2020, Trump issued a
travel ban between the United States and China. On March 11th, 2020, Trump issued a thirty-day
travel ban between the United States and most of Europe. The chief executive of the
International Air Transport Association, Alexandre de Juniac, said in a statement that
“suspending travel on such a broad scale will create negative consequences across the economy”
(Chokshi). The thirty-day travel ban with Europe will impact approximately 17,000 flights and
4.8 million seats, thus losing the airlines industry over $110 billion in revenue (Chokshi). The
American airlines most affected by the European travel ban are Delta, who was responsible for
17% of the flights canceled, followed by United responsible for 14%, and American Airlines 8%
In addition to the mandated travel bans, the airline industry will continue to lose billions of
dollars from the drastic decrease in the demand for flights both domestic and international. In
March, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, made a statement asking citizens to
postpone unnecessary travel to help limit the spread of COVID-19. The discouragement of travel
influenced many Americans to cancel flights, even to locations that did not have bans or travel
advisories. The Delta CEO announced that the company is losing over $60 million every day
from continuing to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic (Slotnick). Delta has had to cancel
80% of its scheduled flights for the month of April. Therefore, many airlines like Delta are
internally struggling and barely able to continue operations.
Corporations Drastically Losing Money Responsibilities to the Public:
It is not true that corporations drastically losing money in light of COVID-19 have no
responsibilities to the public. In fact, corporations that are drastically losing money still have
important responsibilities to uphold to the public. These responsibilities mainly include fulfilling
obligations to employees, particularly by continuing to pay their employees. Considering all of
the hardships facing the public with COVID-19, it is essential that workers who were previously
financially stable are able to maintain their financial stability so they can properly care for
themselves and their families during this tough time. For example, Delta Air Lines has over
eighty thousand employees. If Delta reduces their employees and cuts their payroll, thousands of
Americans who relied on their salaries from Delta will face financial challenges from the layoff/
employment termination. Consequentially, the general public will face additional challenges with
the influx of people now financially struggling. Therefore, corporations drastically losing money,
such as Delta, have the responsibility to continue paying their employees
unemployment/financial issues don’t add to the public health issues the general public is already
facing from COVID-19.
Ethical Framework for Corporations Responsibilities that are Drastically Losing Money:
From a consequentialist perspective, corporations that are drastically losing money are
evaluated based on the amount of good (or bad) that is generated directly from the corporation’s
actions/policies. Consequentialists would agree that corporations drastically losing money should
continue to pay their employees because it would produce a lot of good directly to those
employees, and therefore benefit society overall. Corporations like Delta that have a large
number of employees have a greater responsibility because so many people are relying on Delta
for an income. The amount of negative consequences that would occur from not fulfilling
payment responsibilities to employees would be devastating for society. For example, there
would be a large number of people struggling to afford essential supplies and medical care that
could cause more people to be affected by COVID-19, thus further increasing the spread of the

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