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New Coronavirus Measures Are Proving That Paid Sick Days & Free Healthcare Have Always Been Possibilities

A doctor in surgical attire reaches up to a shelf.

(Shopify Partners from Burst)

Darden Restaurants Inc–the company that runs Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, and more–has announced that as the coronavirus continues to spread, it would be offering paid sick leave to all employees, including hourly workers who may not have previously had access to any sort of paid time off policy.

On the one hand, this is fantastic. All workers should have paid time off benefits but restaurant workers especially need to be covered by those policies as a matter of public health. Anyone that’s worked in food service knows how common and also how gross it is for those employees to work while sick.

On the other hand, those employees should always have had paid sick days, and the fact that companies are just now instituting those new policies seems to mean they always could have.

Similarly, California has ordered insurance providers to waive out-of-pocket expenses for coronavirus testing. Which, again, is great! That test can reportedly cost upwards of $3000. That kind of cost is so prohibitive that it’s going to keep a lot of people from getting the testing and care they might need both for themselves and the health of the general public.

But also, if that’s just a thing the state can order insurance companies to do–and it is!–the number of bankruptcies and Go Fund Me’s and just general crises over medical bills in America seems extra criminal.

According to the New York Times, Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Rosa DeLauro have introduced a bill that would allow all workers to accrue seven days of sick time. That’s not nearly enough, but it’s more than the none currently available to most hourly workers.

Additionally, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have called on Donald Trump to institute a number of health measures for Americans, including paid time off for those under quarantine or whose children have had school canceled over the virus.

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.