Privilege in Springtime: When Labor Laws and Healthcare Meet Pandemic

3 mins read
Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

With more than a third of Americans in jobs that offer no sick leave at all, many unfortunately cannot afford to take any days off when they are feeling sick.

Robyn Gershon, epidemiology professor at the NYU School of Global Public Health, “The Problem With Telling Sick Workers to Stay Home,” by Amanda Mull The Atlantic

Telling folks not to go to work while sick is privileged advice.

It sounds reasonable. Everyone who’s gone to work sick has wished they COULD have stayed home. But most of us don’t have jobs that allow it.

[T]he United States is a global anomaly, one of only a handful of countries that doesn’t guarantee its workers paid leave of any kind.

“The Problem With Telling Sick Workers to Stay Home,” by Amanda Mull The Atlantic

Even with sick leave, extended absences frequently need a doctor’s note. Which requires coverage.

These jobs are also the kind least likely to supply workers with health insurance, making it difficult for millions of people to get medical proof that they can’t go to work.

“The Problem With Telling Sick Workers to Stay Home,” by Amanda Mull The Atlantic

Pandemics don’t care about your socioeconomic class. They don’t stop at borders. Walls don’t contain them. What does?

Accessible, affordable (or free!), universally available healthcare.

We’ve gotten away with ignoring public health due to luck and vaccinations.

That luck was always doomed to end. The declining vaccination rate can only contribute to luck’s demise.

I don’t know if the Coronavirus will be the pandemic that reawakens our fear of illness. But I know that something will.

When that happens?


Not celebrities in the magazines.
Not that thing that one person heard from that person they know.
Not randos on “teh interwebs”.
Not even me.

The medical kinds.
Actual public health professionals.
Your state & local health departments.

I’m not kidding.

I know that the Coronavirus is scary. Especially when the administration is playing blind man’s bluff with its public health response. But panic helps no one.

So take a deep breath, put on your grown-ass adult knickers, and WASH YOUR HANDS.

Stay frosty out there. 

Originally published on Twitter. Re-posted with permission.

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