American’s Can’t Comply With CDC Recommendations Because Not Enough Have Paid Sick Leave

As of Tuesday morning, nearly 4,500 cases of coronavirus have been identified across 49 states in the U.S., with nearly 90 individuals who have died due to the disease.

Sue Sapp/U.S. Air Force

The true toll of the virus, however, may be higher than that: as the New York Times reported, “the pace of diagnosis is expected to quicken as the virus spreads and testing becomes more widely available.”

In other words, the numbers could be higher, as testing kits haven’t yet been available everywhere, and the true extent of where COVID-19 has spread hasn’t been made clear yet.

The disease may also be spreading more because Americans simply can’t comply with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This week, flanked by the president and other political figures, CDC officials stressed the need for more proactive measures — including avoiding contact with others if at all possible, and staying in group sizes smaller than 10 if going out in public is necessary.

The harsh reality, though, is that many Americans cannot afford to do so. That’s because 1-in-4 Americans do not have paid sick leave, according to reporting from Democracy Now.

That amounts to 30 million individuals who still have to go into work because they won’t get a check to pay for groceries, rent, or other bills if they don’t. The situation affects low-income earners the most: two-thirds of lower-wage earners do not have paid medical leave of any kind.

President Donald Trump promised last Wednesday to include in any emergency bill to address coronavirus a provision that would give paid leave to most workers. The House acted swiftly, but even their bill has its limitations, as it only applies to businesses that have 50 workers or fewer.

The Senate hasn’t acted at all — on the same day as Trump’s address to the nation last week, the Republican-led chamber tabled a proposal that would have guaranteed 14 days paid leave, and went home for the weekend after the House passed its bill. Senators have yet to address the proposal.

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