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Editorial Boards Agree: We Need Emergency Paid Sick Leave to Fight the Coronavirus

Murray, DeLauro bill would immediately require employers to provide workers with 14 days of paid sick leave to be used during a public health emergency, including current crisis


Everett, WA:Paid sick leave an effective tool against Covid-19, ” The Herald Editorial Board


Orlando, FL: “Coronavirus sick time: Congress should do the job if Florida won’t,” The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board


New York, NY: “We Are Ignoring One Obvious Way to Fight the Coronavirus,” New York Times Editorial Board


(Washington, D.C.) – Last week, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Labor, introduced new, emergency paid sick leave legislation in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The legislation requires employers to allow workers to accrue seven days of paid sick leave, and provide an additional 14 days of paid sick leave available immediately at the beginning of a public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis. The legislation is part of Senator Murray’s continued efforts to push the Trump Administration for a comprehensive, fact-based, and fast response that supports workers and ensures impacted small businesses receive the support they need from the federal government. As the coronavirus continues to spread, editorial boards across the country agree that paid sick leave is a crucial tool to fight the virus.


See a roundup of editorials below:


Everett, WA: “Paid sick leave an effective tool against Covid-19, ” The Herald Editorial Board


“For many Americans, staying home from work — if their job doesn’t provide paid sick leave — is not financially possible, especially if it’s for a week or longer. … But legislation proposed last week in Congress would significantly increase the time available for those who need to be away from work during a public health crisis. The legislation builds on earlier legislation from U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, and U.S. Rep. Rose DeLauro, D-Connecticut, that sought to require businesses with 15 or more employees to provide up to seven days of paid sick leave annually.” [Herald Net, 3/10/20]


Tacoma, WA: “Coronavirus exposes urgent need to fix gaps in Washington state’s safety net,” The News Tribune Editorial Board


“When it comes to eradicating human pathogens, from measles to smallpox, intervention and prevention are most effective when applied to all people, including those at society’s margins. At the time of this writing Washington state has seen more than 100 reported cases of the viral strain known as COVID-19, and ten deaths. The longer the disease is here, the more it will uncover economic and social inequities found in institutions such as healthcare, housing, employment, information access, childcare and education. … Murray held nothing back Tuesday when she said “people are being told to stay home for two weeks if they are sick … guess who can’t stay home?” She answered her own question: low-wage or part-time workers who don’t have sick leave. An estimated 32 million people in the U.S. don’t qualify for this benefit.” [News Tribune, 3/5/20]


New York, NY:We Are Ignoring One Obvious Way to Fight the Coronavirus,” New York Times Editorial Board

“Most of all, the problem now and going forward is making sure that sick workers stay home. That means not forcing employees to choose between penury and working while coughing. Congress can help by mandating that workers receive paid time off if they fall ill, or if they need to care for an ailing family member. Such a policy is necessary both to impede the spread of the virus and its economic harm. Roughly one-quarter of workers in the private sector — about 32 million people — are not entitled to any paid sick days. Absent legislation, they face a choice between endangering the health of co-workers and customers and calling in sick and losing their wages and perhaps also their jobs. The current system is practically devised to spread infectious disease. Among the people least likely to have paid sick days, and therefore most likely to work through illness, are low-wage service workers like restaurant employees and home health care aides. (Those workers also are less likely to have health insurance, which compounds the problem.) Most developed nations require employers to provide some form of paid sick leave, and the United States should do so, too.” [New York Times, 3/3/20]


Orlando, FL: “Coronavirus sick time: Congress should do the job if Florida won’t,” The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board


“A lot of employers in Florida refuse to pay employees when they’re out sick. And the state government isn’t about to force employers to offer paid sick time. Legislators even passed a law prohibiting cities or counties from making employers do right by their employees. Our last hope rests with Congress, where two members of Congress — Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut —have introduced a bill intended forcing employers to offer ailing employees paid time off during public health emergencies. … Under this bill, everyone is better off — sick employees who stay home and healthy customers and co-workers who don’t get exposed.” [Orlando Sentinel, 3/10/20]


Raleigh, NC: “Coronavirus: We’re only as safe as our most vulnerable neighbors,” The News & Observer Editorial Board


“They are nearly 400,000 North Carolinians without medical coverage and the 45 percent of Americans who don’t have paid sick days. They are the people who pause at what’s routine and dread what should be merely inconvenient — taking a couple hours to have a doctor check you out. That trip takes time that can’t be recovered, and that visit has to be weighed against the number of meals it might pay for. For too many, it’s a cruel calculation that brings no good choices. … Congress, if not states, also should provide all Americans access to paid sick days and family medical leave. To do so is the right thing for all of us, but more importantly, it’s the right thing for the least protected among us.” [The News & Observer, 3/8/20]


San Antonio, TX: “Remain calm, but rethink health policies,” San Antonio Express News Editorial Board


“The spread of coronavirus highlights the need for paid sick leave in San Antonio and Texas. … The last thing the community needs is people with coronavirus or the flu showing up to work at their restaurant jobs because they can’t afford to call in sick. Should schools begin to close, many parents will need to stay home with their children, but that also potentially requires sick leave. … Stay calm, San Antonio. Treat others with kindness and compassion. Wash your hands. And think hard about the best policies to help all people stay healthy.” [San Antonio Express News, 3/3/20]