Maybe COVID-19 can teach us all to stay home when sick

March 24, 2020 1:40 PM

I didn’t want your cold or flu. I got really sick.

We must change our expectations. Going to work while ill has been rewarded, approved. It even has seemed expected that if you can work, you should go to work. I have noticed many sick people working at many jobs while sick over the years. Sometimes it is because if they don’t work they don’t get paid. Maybe they would deny they are ill because they want their paycheck. Sometimes they don’t want to use their vacation time. Perhaps they feel the work is important so they must. People go to social events that they don’t want to miss. A volunteer may think he is being responsible by showing up when sick, or not want to let folks down. Perhaps you think no one will know because you have stopped sneezing or dripping an hour ago. Maybe you took medications that mask the symptoms. Maybe you are hoping this isn’t really a cold. Maybe you think you are over it and it is no longer catching. Maybe your illness is mild but the person who catches it from you will have poor defenses and get really ill. Really ill.

Thousands of people in the U.S. die every year from the flu. We have been accepting this. The U.S. Centers for Disease and Control “estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million to 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 to 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.”

I am hoping that there will be one good outcome from this COVID-19; I am hoping that we, as a society, will insist and expect from now on that sick people will isolate themselves as much as practicable and we will not share our illness with our coworkers and the public, and that it will be normal to pay sick leave to all, and we won’t allow people to stay at work sick.

Connie Cohen, Whitefish