National Nurses United strongly objects to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest guidelines that implicitly allow employers to pressure essential workers who've been exposed to COVID-19 to continue working, but we are not surprised.
The CDC issued basically the same guidelines, as well, for health care workers earlier on in this pandemic. This irresponsible guidance undermines the entire effort many states and cities are making to reduce the rate of COVID-19 infections by ordering their residents to shelter in place.
In addition, this latest guidance will hit workers of color and low-income workers -- many of whom work in public-sector, agriculture, food service, transportation, and janitorial sectors -- particularly hard and further expose them and their families to the virus. Data shows that essential workers are also more likely to be women. We already see from emerging data that the numbers of COVID-19 infected and deaths are disproportionately concentrated among African Americans.
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Instead of weakening standards for national infection control, our national government should be passing legislation that provides paid sick leave for workers who have been exposed in order to be able to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days at home for the safety and health of themselves, their families and their coworkers, and the public.