Paid sick leave keeps everyone healthier. During pandemics it’s a necessity.

In most developed countries, workers have the right to a certain number of paid sick days. It’s a policy that isn’t just rooted in generosity — during pandemics like the novel coronavirus, it can literally save lives.

When workers have to choose between earning a living and staying home sick, it incentivizes them to come to work when they’re ill and potentially infect their colleagues and anyone else they come into contact with. That’s why public health officials are concerned that millions of American workers don’t have access to paid sick days.

A disproportionate share of those workers are concentrated in occupations like food service and hospitality, where there’s the potential to infect the hundreds of customers many of them interact with every day. Those with paid sick days or the ability to work from home are at risk, too, since many of the people delivering food and other necessities don’t have that right.

When it comes to the coronavirus, we’re only as protected as our most vulnerable neighbors.

Further reading:

Map of Covid-19 cases in Italy (The Italian Ministry of Health)

Data on paid sick leave in the US (Pew Research Center)

Preventing the spread of Covid-19 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Map of paid sick laws in the US (A Better Balance)

The 2011 Wisconsin bill that served as a model for laws in other states (Wisconsin State Legislature)

Agenda from 2011 ALEC meeting (PR Watch)

Map of states that limit paid sick leave (Economic Policy Institute)

Text of Democrats’ original coronavirus relief bill (CNN)

Text of coronavirus relief bill (US House of Representatives)

The companies putting profits ahead of public health (The New York Times)

Author: Liz Scheltens

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