Friday, January 20, 2012

Stomach Turning Information on the Norovirus – Just Another Reason Everyone Needs Paid Sick Days

The information below comes from Boston’s NPR show Common Health: Reform and Reality.

Large cities like Boston and New York have seen an increase in people coming to the Emergency Room complaining of vomiting and diarrhea, most likely the cost of the norovirus or stomach flu. With more people going to parties and eating out during the holidays an increase is not something entirely new, but looking at the norovirus knowing that over 40% of workers do not have paid sick days and a majority of cases come from ill food service workers makes you think twice about eating out.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are over 20 million cases of the norovirus. Below is a timeline of how norovirus plays out:

As shown by the chart above, the norovirus is highly contagious for days and somewhat contagious for weeks. Anyone without paid sick days will likely not be able to stay home not just to recover but to ensure others do not become sick. With over 80% of food service workers not having paid sick days and 1 in 15 Americans contracting the norovirus, providing paid sick days will prevent restaurant and other businesses from having customers infected and possibly have to close due to an outbreak.
In 2008, when a worker at a restaurant in Kent, Ohio had no choice but to work while sick with the norovirus, over 500 people become violently ill. The outbreak cost the Kent community between $130,233 and $305,337.

Workers need paid sick days, not only to keep themselves healthy but also to keep the community healthy.

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