Paid sick leave prevents thousands of COVID cases daily, study says
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At least 17 European countries, Japan, Australia and Canada guarantee at least some paid sick leave.
The United States does not. Which often means people end up going to work sick, said Ruth Milkman, a labor sociologist at the City University of New York.
“People are forced to choose between making a living and protecting their own health and that of their families,” she said. “And, often, they choose to make a living.”
Which is not great when you’re trying to control the spread of a highly contagious virus. So in March, Congress and the White House approved two weeks of emergency paid sick leave for COVID-related reasons.
In the 38 states that did not already mandate some kind of paid sick leave, a new study shows the law made a big difference.
“We saw 400 fewer cases per day” in each of those states, said Nicolas Ziebarth, one of the authors of the study and an economist at Cornell University. He said the effect of the new law adds up to about 15,000 fewer cases per day nationwide, “because workers in some states could now, for the first time, take paid sick leave.”
That’s even though the law “essentially left out 106 million workers nationwide,” said Pronita Gupta, director of job quality at the advocacy group the Center for Law and Social Policy. She said the emergency sick leave policy does not apply to companies with more than 500 employees. A lot of smaller companies have been able to get exemptions, and a lot of workers who are covered don’t know it.
The law will expire at the end of December, and Gupta said if Congress doesn’t extend it, “you’re going to see the spread of contagion. As the nation tries to recover and tries to reopen, it’ll continue to hamper that reopening — and it’ll have long-term impacts,” Gupta said.
Impacts on people’s health and well-being, she said, and on the nation’s economy.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Pfizer said early data show its coronavirus vaccine is effective. So what’s next?
In the last few months, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have shared other details of the process including trial blueprints, the breakdown of the subjects and ethnicities and whether they’re taking money from the government. They’re being especially transparent in order to try to temper public skepticism about this vaccine process. The next big test, said Jennifer Miller at the Yale School of Medicine, comes when drug companies release their data, “so that other scientists who the public trust can go in, replicate findings, and communicate them to the public. And hopefully build appropriate trust in a vaccine.”
How is President-elect Joe Biden planning to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic turmoil it’s created?
On Nov. 9, President-Elect Joe Biden announced three co-chairs of his new COVID-19 task force. But what kind of effect might this task force have during this transition time, before Biden takes office? “The transition team can do a lot to amplify and reinforce the messages of scientists and public health experts,” said Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director for the Immunization Action Coalition. Moore said Biden’s COVID task force can also “start talking to state leaders and other experts about exactly what they need to equip them to roll out the vaccines effectively.”
What does slower retail sales growth in October mean for the economy?
It is a truism that we repeat time and again at Marketplace: As goes the U.S. consumer, so goes the U.S. economy. And recently, we’ve been seeing plenty of signs of weakness in the consumer economy. Retail sales were up three-tenths of a percent in October, but the gain was weaker than expected and much weaker than September’s. John Leer, an economist at Morning Consult, said a lack of new fiscal stimulus from Congress is dampening consumers’ appetite to spend. So is the pandemic.