We know the very best way to combat the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home and limit contact with the public. But for millions of workers in the U.S. that isn’t an option. They have to work to pay their bills. And sometimes that means they are forced to go to work while they’re sick. This further endangers themselves, their families, their communities, and the entire U.S. Why? Because even though the U.S. is one of the richest countries in the world, it still does not guarantee paid sick leave at the federal level.
We know COVID-19 does not care who you are or where you live. And that is why we need national policies that benefit everyone, right now. We have no time to lose.
Right now workers are forced to choose between a paycheck that would keep them housed and fed, and their health. And in the fact of a global pandemic, it also means everyone those workers come in contact with are at risk as well. And of course the lack of paid sick leave disproportionately impacts people of color and low income workers, further deepening existing inequities. So many of these same workers are also keeping our society going, looking after us all by providing essential goods and services we depend on.
Our public health policies must rise to the occasion to protect as many people as possible from transmitting and contracting COVID-19. It’s past time for Congress to ensure that all workers receive paid sick leave.
While Congress recently passed an aid package that included paid sick leave for some, it only applies to about 20 percent of all U.S. workers and to companies with fewer than 500 employees.
It is up to us to hold lawmakers accountable by pushing for paid sick leave in the wake of the coronavirus.