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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Paid sick leave would help Rhode Island stem the spread of infectious disease

Staying home when sick isn't an option for many low-wage workers
By Aaron Regunberg

Image result for stay home when you are sickThis weekend, the Governor announced there have been two positive cases of coronavirus detected here in Rhode Island. 

While the general risk for Rhode Islanders remains low (see RI Department of Health guidance here), we should take this public health threat seriously.

The good news? There is a very simple step our state could take to help contain the spread of COVID-19 -- by strengthening our paid sick days law to ensure that every single Rhode Islander is covered.

Helping to win paid sick days here in Rhode Island -- alongside Senator Maryellen Goodwin and hundreds of workers, business owners, and community members across our state -- was one of my proudest accomplishments in the General Assembly. 

Our 2017 legislation expanded sick time to 100,000 workers who never before had that security. But the truth is, our law didn't cover everyone.

Powerful corporate lobbyists were able to carve out certain businesses, and cap sick time at five days. 

I don’t think our movement could have done anything more at the time to win a better bill -- but tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders still don't have access to this basic safeguard. 

And if missing work means missing rent, people are going to go to work sick, whether they’re caring for our elders or handling our food or working with our children.

In the face of coronavirus, paid sick days is not just a moral imperative. It’s a medical necessity. 

Will you add your signature here to call on state leaders to take action -- as quickly as possible -- to strengthen our sick time law in order to cover every Rhode Islander?

Our health is only as safe as the worst-cared-for person in our community. How we fare against coronavirus will be determined by the height of the floor, not the ceiling. So let's finish the work we started in 2017 -- because everyone deserves the chance to take time off when they're sick.