We Need Paid Sick Time — and More

Jennifer R. Povey
4 min readAug 9, 2022
Photo by Kristine Wook on Unsplash

Monkeypox can keep you sick (and contagious) for two to four weeks.

Very few people in the U.S. can isolate that long. (The CDC recommends wearing a mask and full body clothing if you must leave the house and “avoiding public transportation.” Hard for people who have to use public transportation to get to the doctor).

And technically, you should isolate your entire household and get food delivered, especially if you live in an apartment or small house where household transmission is going to be hard to avoid.

Even the ten day isolation period for COVID-19 got slashed, not for biology reasons but because most people can’t afford to isolate that long.

In an at will state it is perfectly legal for your boss to fire you if you isolate.

Most people in the U.S. do not have paid sick time. Smaller employers often argue that they can’t afford to provide this benefit. (And of course, there’s the guy I worked for who gave five total paid days off a year because “Any more than that and people will abuse it.” Or the job interview where I was told outright the previous holder of the position was fired for “taking too much sick time.” Or the boss who told me “If you don’t come in for ANY reason, you will hand in your keys and uniform the next day.”)

The last example is pretty extreme but I know it has happened to others. But…we need paid sick time.

COVID-19 should have been a wake up call on the public health and economic costs of not providing it.

But we need more than that.

What is a Notifiable Disease?

A notifiable disease is one the law requires you to report to the authorities. The vast majority of notifiable diseases are agricultural, such as potato blight in the U.K. Some examples of notifiable agricultural diseases in the U.S. are:

  • West Nile Virus
  • Virulent Newcastle disease (this is something chickens get)
  • Black stem rust
  • Citrus greening

So, are there any human notifiable diseases? The answer is yes. Some vary by state, but there is a Nationally Notifiable Disease list that includes things like…

Jennifer R. Povey

I write about fantasy, science fiction and horror, LGBT issues, travel, and social issues.