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新冠感染病例再次上升,数百万美国人急需带薪休假

新冠感染病例再次上升,数百万美国人急需带薪休假

Christine Mui 2022-07-21
在富裕国家中,美国是唯一一个没有联邦政府规定的病假的国家。

奥密克戎新变异毒株来袭,美国员工是否有足够多的病假呢?图片来源:PAUL BERSEBACH—MEDIANEWS GROUP/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER/GETTY IMAGES

早在2020年,新冠疫情爆发之初,阿普丽尔·帕策尔就失去了带薪病假的资格——加入了3300多万美国人的行列。

为了在新冠疫情期间保持财务稳定,这位49岁的雇主取消了每周工作时间少于25小时的员工的福利。她担心遭到报复,拒绝透露姓名。但是,位于美国阿拉斯加州费尔班克斯的医学实验室科学家帕策尔并不是自愿做兼职的。

她告诉《财富》杂志:“我是受《美国人残疾人法案》(American With Disability Act)保护的残疾人。惩罚一个无法选择全职工作的残疾人似乎不公平。”

上周,帕策尔和她的家人首次感染了新冠病毒,她的丈夫住进了重症监护室。由于没有带薪休假,她已经丢掉了六天的工资,这一情况还在继续,她只能依靠朋友发起的GoFundMe募捐活动来度过难关。

帕策尔说:“我在专业的基本工作环境中接受过专业教育。你会认为它会相对稳定和安全,并且有很多好处,但在有些情况下,这不是真的。如果在这种情况下发生这种事情,那么那些没有那么幸运找到这份好工作的人怎么办?”

在富裕国家中,美国是唯一一个没有联邦政府规定的病假的国家——尽管全球疫情使这个问题成为人们关注的焦点。2020年3月通过的《家庭首次感染冠状病毒应对法案》(Families First Coronavirus Response Act)要求一些雇主给员工提供两周的带薪休假。但这项保护已经在2020年年底到期,激励企业继续执行这项政策的税收抵免也于去年9月结束。

然而,新冠疫情似乎一波接一波地持续着。据美国疾病控制与预防中心(CDC)估计,新近推动美国确诊病例飙升的是奥密克戎亚型变异毒株BA.4和BA.5,占新确诊病例的81%。澳大利亚最近的指导意见表明,与其他毒株几个月的免疫期相比,新冠肺炎患者康复后28天内就可能再次感染这些亚型变异毒株。

一个数百万人在感染后无法待在家里拿工资的国家,是否准备好应对这种情况了?

就新冠疫情而言,带薪病假的现状如何?

在没有带薪病假的国家标准的情况下,美国让每个地方——在没有当地法律的地方,每个雇主——决定自己的带薪病假政策,从而让员工在感染新冠病毒后康复、照顾隔离的亲属或接种疫苗。根据研究和倡导非营利组织PHI National最近的一项研究,在新冠疫情的头一年半时间里,超过一半的州没有为直接护理和其他重要工作人员提供任何带薪病假或危险工作津贴。

针对最新的变体,公共卫生专家在新冠疫情开始时反复强调、如今再次强调的一个关键信息是:“如果生病了,请待在家里。”一些流行病学家,比如萨拉·安德烈亚表示,这说起来容易,做起来难。

位于美国俄勒冈州的OHSU-PSU公共卫生学院(OHSU-PSU School of Public Health)的助理教授安德烈亚指出:“这个问题仍然普遍存在,个别解决方案无法解决这个问题。你不能对一个人说‘如果你生病了就不要来上班’,而不赋予他们这样做的能力。”

截至2020年,大约四分之一的美国员工无法享受带薪病假。带薪休假也因为职业和收入而大不相同。美国劳工统计局(Bureau of Labor Statistics)的数据显示,收入排在前25%的员工中,有94%的人有某种形式的带薪病假,但对于那些收入排在后25%的员工而言,这一几率就像抛硬币一样。

安德烈亚说:“在与很多人打交道的地方工作的人,例如在杂货店工作的人、在餐馆工作的人等等,他们往往是那些无法享受这些带薪休假政策的人。他们是根据有限的选择来做决定的,其中之一就是:‘我付不起房租,吃不饱饭,或者,我就有传染同事的风险。’”

对于那些有带薪病假的人来说,病假时间也并不长。根据美国劳工统计局的数据,即便是拥有20年以上工作经验的私营企业员工,平均也只能享受7天带薪病假。两天的时间用来接种疫苗和接种加强针,另外还有五天时间用来遵守美国疾病控制与预防中心的隔离指南,而新冠感染人数已经超过了平均水平。

同一年内感染两次新冠病毒?这对病假意味着什么

虽然奥密克戎亚型变异毒株BA.5相对较新,但它很快就成为在美国传播的主要毒株。尽管关于再感染的数据有限,但像纽约市这样的地方已经看到最新的亚型变异毒株导致病例激增,包括一些接种过疫苗的人,他们在今年早些时候感染了新冠病毒,最近刚康复。

位于美国波士顿的塔夫茨医学中心(Tufts Medical Center)的传染病医生兼医院流行病学家希拉·多伦告诉《财富》杂志,在奥密克戎出现之前,再感染新冠病毒很罕见,原因有二。直到今年2月,大多数人才至少感染过一次新冠病毒。在此之前,变体之间的差异并不大,所以人们的免疫力更好地延续了下来。

多伦表示:“与之前或最近传播的变体相比,一种变体的免疫侵入性越强,你就越有可能看到这种现象,即与前奥密克戎时代相比,有人在更短的时间内再次感染新冠病毒。在奥密克戎出现之前的同一年内,我们没有看到再感染现象,而现在,我们看到了再感染现象。”

当被问及今年晚些时候的第二次感染将如何影响她的家人时,帕策尔皱着眉头说:“哦,天哪,那真的会让我陷入深渊。”她补充道,随着天然气和石油价格的上涨,而她在寒冷的阿拉斯加的家要取暖,就需要使用这些能源,“这真的会让我们陷入困境,因为我们现在收支相抵。”

澳大利亚的卫生官员建议,感染后的免疫期应该从12周缩短到28天,他们认为再次感染可能会更早发生,在上一次感染后不到一个月就会发生。美国疾病控制与预防中心没有表示将会缩短免疫时间窗口。

在美国前总统贝拉克·奥巴马的政府里担任美国疾病控制与预防中心主任的汤姆·弗里登说,一种新的亚型变异毒株, BA.2.75,几乎没有时间登上全国头条,“似乎比BA.5更具传染性”。人们担心的是,随着疫情早期的带薪病假政策到期,疫情将会扩散。

弗里登警告称:“这提醒我们,应该推广带薪病假。生病时要去上班的压力——尤其是对依赖定期工资的低收入工人来说——将导致新冠病毒和其他传染病的传播。”

如果感染新冠,并非每个人都有能力在家远程工作。根据安德烈亚的说法,如果没有足够的带薪病假,面对面交流的工作给疾病在工作场所传播带来最大风险,而教师就是一个很好的例子。从 8 月开始,美国最大的公立学校系统之一休斯顿学区(Houston ISD)将不再延长新冠肺炎带薪病假,教师必须使用他们拥有的任何常规休假时间。一项针对200多名社区成员的推特(Twitter)民意调查暗示了这可能带来的影响。

如果你感染了新冠并且没有病假了,你会怎么做?

——houstonisdwatch(@houstonisdwatch),2022年7月13日

在美国马里兰州的蒙哥马利县,一项允许公立学校教师由于新冠疫情相关原因(包括接种疫苗)而休最多80小时的补充带薪休假协议在本月没有续签。当地教师工会主席詹妮弗·马丁告诉《财富》杂志,她担心协议未续签可能会影响感染后留在家中和选择接种第二剂加强针的员工比例——美国总统乔·拜登的政府官员表示,他们本周正在考虑这一情况。

马丁说:“你最不希望看到的就是生病的人来工作,这可能会使学校成为疾病的传播媒介。 人们越难有时间打疫苗,接种疫苗达到预期目标的可能性就越小。”(财富中文网)

译者:中慧言-王芳

早在2020年,新冠疫情爆发之初,阿普丽尔·帕策尔就失去了带薪病假的资格——加入了3300多万美国人的行列。

为了在新冠疫情期间保持财务稳定,这位49岁的雇主取消了每周工作时间少于25小时的员工的福利。她担心遭到报复,拒绝透露姓名。但是,位于美国阿拉斯加州费尔班克斯的医学实验室科学家帕策尔并不是自愿做兼职的。

她告诉《财富》杂志:“我是受《美国人残疾人法案》(American With Disability Act)保护的残疾人。惩罚一个无法选择全职工作的残疾人似乎不公平。”

上周,帕策尔和她的家人首次感染了新冠病毒,她的丈夫住进了重症监护室。由于没有带薪休假,她已经丢掉了六天的工资,这一情况还在继续,她只能依靠朋友发起的GoFundMe募捐活动来度过难关。

帕策尔说:“我在专业的基本工作环境中接受过专业教育。你会认为它会相对稳定和安全,并且有很多好处,但在有些情况下,这不是真的。如果在这种情况下发生这种事情,那么那些没有那么幸运找到这份好工作的人怎么办?”

在富裕国家中,美国是唯一一个没有联邦政府规定的病假的国家——尽管全球疫情使这个问题成为人们关注的焦点。2020年3月通过的《家庭首次感染冠状病毒应对法案》(Families First Coronavirus Response Act)要求一些雇主给员工提供两周的带薪休假。但这项保护已经在2020年年底到期,激励企业继续执行这项政策的税收抵免也于去年9月结束。

然而,新冠疫情似乎一波接一波地持续着。据美国疾病控制与预防中心(CDC)估计,新近推动美国确诊病例飙升的是奥密克戎亚型变异毒株BA.4和BA.5,占新确诊病例的81%。澳大利亚最近的指导意见表明,与其他毒株几个月的免疫期相比,新冠肺炎患者康复后28天内就可能再次感染这些亚型变异毒株。

一个数百万人在感染后无法待在家里拿工资的国家,是否准备好应对这种情况了?

就新冠疫情而言,带薪病假的现状如何?

在没有带薪病假的国家标准的情况下,美国让每个地方——在没有当地法律的地方,每个雇主——决定自己的带薪病假政策,从而让员工在感染新冠病毒后康复、照顾隔离的亲属或接种疫苗。根据研究和倡导非营利组织PHI National最近的一项研究,在新冠疫情的头一年半时间里,超过一半的州没有为直接护理和其他重要工作人员提供任何带薪病假或危险工作津贴。

针对最新的变体,公共卫生专家在新冠疫情开始时反复强调、如今再次强调的一个关键信息是:“如果生病了,请待在家里。”一些流行病学家,比如萨拉·安德烈亚表示,这说起来容易,做起来难。

位于美国俄勒冈州的OHSU-PSU公共卫生学院(OHSU-PSU School of Public Health)的助理教授安德烈亚指出:“这个问题仍然普遍存在,个别解决方案无法解决这个问题。你不能对一个人说‘如果你生病了就不要来上班’,而不赋予他们这样做的能力。”

截至2020年,大约四分之一的美国员工无法享受带薪病假。带薪休假也因为职业和收入而大不相同。美国劳工统计局(Bureau of Labor Statistics)的数据显示,收入排在前25%的员工中,有94%的人有某种形式的带薪病假,但对于那些收入排在后25%的员工而言,这一几率就像抛硬币一样。

安德烈亚说:“在与很多人打交道的地方工作的人,例如在杂货店工作的人、在餐馆工作的人等等,他们往往是那些无法享受这些带薪休假政策的人。他们是根据有限的选择来做决定的,其中之一就是:‘我付不起房租,吃不饱饭,或者,我就有传染同事的风险。’”

对于那些有带薪病假的人来说,病假时间也并不长。根据美国劳工统计局的数据,即便是拥有20年以上工作经验的私营企业员工,平均也只能享受7天带薪病假。两天的时间用来接种疫苗和接种加强针,另外还有五天时间用来遵守美国疾病控制与预防中心的隔离指南,而新冠感染人数已经超过了平均水平。

同一年内感染两次新冠病毒?这对病假意味着什么

虽然奥密克戎亚型变异毒株BA.5相对较新,但它很快就成为在美国传播的主要毒株。尽管关于再感染的数据有限,但像纽约市这样的地方已经看到最新的亚型变异毒株导致病例激增,包括一些接种过疫苗的人,他们在今年早些时候感染了新冠病毒,最近刚康复。

位于美国波士顿的塔夫茨医学中心(Tufts Medical Center)的传染病医生兼医院流行病学家希拉·多伦告诉《财富》杂志,在奥密克戎出现之前,再感染新冠病毒很罕见,原因有二。直到今年2月,大多数人才至少感染过一次新冠病毒。在此之前,变体之间的差异并不大,所以人们的免疫力更好地延续了下来。

多伦表示:“与之前或最近传播的变体相比,一种变体的免疫侵入性越强,你就越有可能看到这种现象,即与前奥密克戎时代相比,有人在更短的时间内再次感染新冠病毒。在奥密克戎出现之前的同一年内,我们没有看到再感染现象,而现在,我们看到了再感染现象。”

当被问及今年晚些时候的第二次感染将如何影响她的家人时,帕策尔皱着眉头说:“哦,天哪,那真的会让我陷入深渊。”她补充道,随着天然气和石油价格的上涨,而她在寒冷的阿拉斯加的家要取暖,就需要使用这些能源,“这真的会让我们陷入困境,因为我们现在收支相抵。”

澳大利亚的卫生官员建议,感染后的免疫期应该从12周缩短到28天,他们认为再次感染可能会更早发生,在上一次感染后不到一个月就会发生。美国疾病控制与预防中心没有表示将会缩短免疫时间窗口。

在美国前总统贝拉克·奥巴马的政府里担任美国疾病控制与预防中心主任的汤姆·弗里登说,一种新的亚型变异毒株, BA.2.75,几乎没有时间登上全国头条,“似乎比BA.5更具传染性”。人们担心的是,随着疫情早期的带薪病假政策到期,疫情将会扩散。

弗里登警告称:“这提醒我们,应该推广带薪病假。生病时要去上班的压力——尤其是对依赖定期工资的低收入工人来说——将导致新冠病毒和其他传染病的传播。”

如果感染新冠,并非每个人都有能力在家远程工作。根据安德烈亚的说法,如果没有足够的带薪病假,面对面交流的工作给疾病在工作场所传播带来最大风险,而教师就是一个很好的例子。从 8 月开始,美国最大的公立学校系统之一休斯顿学区(Houston ISD)将不再延长新冠肺炎带薪病假,教师必须使用他们拥有的任何常规休假时间。一项针对200多名社区成员的推特(Twitter)民意调查暗示了这可能带来的影响。

如果你感染了新冠并且没有病假了,你会怎么做?

——houstonisdwatch(@houstonisdwatch),2022年7月13日

在美国马里兰州的蒙哥马利县,一项允许公立学校教师由于新冠疫情相关原因(包括接种疫苗)而休最多80小时的补充带薪休假协议在本月没有续签。当地教师工会主席詹妮弗·马丁告诉《财富》杂志,她担心协议未续签可能会影响感染后留在家中和选择接种第二剂加强针的员工比例——美国总统乔·拜登的政府官员表示,他们本周正在考虑这一情况。

马丁说:“你最不希望看到的就是生病的人来工作,这可能会使学校成为疾病的传播媒介。 人们越难有时间打疫苗,接种疫苗达到预期目标的可能性就越小。”(财富中文网)

译者:中慧言-王芳

Back in 2020, at the onset of COVID-19, April Patzer became ineligible for paid sick leave—joining a group of over 33 million Americans.

In a move to stay financially stable during the pandemic, the 49-year-old’s employer, who she declined to name fearing retribution, eliminated benefits for anyone working fewer than 25 hours a week. But Patzer—a medical laboratory scientist in Fairbanks, Alaska—doesn’t work part-time by choice.

“I’m ADA disabled,” she told Fortune. “It doesn’t seem fair to penalize a disabled person who isn't making the choice to not work full time.”

Last week, Patzer and her entire family contracted COVID-19 for the first time, landing her husband in the ICU. Without paid leave, she has lost out on six days’ worth of wages and counting, relying on a GoFundMe fundraising drive started by a friend to get through her hardship.

“I have a specialized education in a professional essential worker setting,” Patzer said. “You would think it would be relatively stable and secure and have lots of good benefits, yet there are circumstances where that’s not true. If that can happen to this kind of situation, what about all those people out there who weren't that lucky to have this good of a job?”

Among wealthy countries, the U.S. is an outlier as the only one that doesn’t have federally mandated sick leave—even as the global pandemic drew a spotlight to the issue. Passed in March 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act required some employers to grant two weeks of paid leave to their workers. But that protection expired at the end of 2020, and tax credits incentivizing companies to carry on the policy also ended last September.

Yet the pandemic has persisted in seemingly never-ending waves. Driving the U.S.’s latest spike are Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, responsible for 81% of new COVID-19 cases, according to CDC estimates. Recent guidance from Australia suggests that reinfections with these subvariants could occur as soon as 28 days after recovering from a previous COVID-19 case, compared to the few months of immunity seen with other strains.

Is a country where millions lack the ability to stay home and keep their paycheck if infected ready to handle that?

What is the current state of paid sick leave when it comes to COVID-19?

Without national standards on paid sick leave, the U.S. lets each locality—and where no local laws exist, each employer—decide its own policies regarding paid time off to recover from COVID-19, care for a relative in isolation, or get the vaccine. Left to the states, more than half didn’t implement any paid sick leave or hazard pay for direct care and other essential workers during the first year and a half of the pandemic, according to a recent study by research and advocacy nonprofit PHI National.

A key message that public health experts repeated at the start of the pandemic is being stressed again for the latest variants: “Stay home if sick.” Some epidemiologists, like Sarah Andrea, say that’s easier said than done.

“We still have this widespread problem, and individual solutions aren’t going to cut it,” said Andrea, an assistant professor at Oregon’s OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. “You can’t say to a person ‘don't come to work if you’re sick,’ and not offer them the ability to.”

Roughly one in four American workers do not have access to paid sick leave at all, as of 2020. Access also varied widely by profession and income. While 94% of workers earning in the top 25% reported having some form of paid sick leave, the odds drop to that of a coin flip for those earning in the bottom quarter of wages, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Folks in grocery stores, folks who work in restaurants, and so on, where they’re interacting with a great number of people, are often the ones that don’t have access to these paid leave policies,” Andrea said. “They’re making a decision based on what limited options are available to them, and one of them is, ‘I can’t pay my rent and put food on the table, or I risk exposing my coworkers.’”

For those with paid sick leave, it’s not plentiful. Even private industry workers with over 20 years of experience receive seven days of paid sick leave on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Just taking two days off to get vaccinated, another for the booster, and five more to follow CDC isolation guidelines while infected with COVID-19 already exceeds that average.

Two cases within the same year? What that could mean for sick leave

Though the Omicron subvariant BA.5 is relatively new, it quickly took over as the dominant strain in the U.S. Data on reinfections is limited, but places like New York City have seen the newest subvariants drive a spike in cases, including among some vaccinated people who recently recovered from COVID-19 in the surge earlier this year.

Shira Doron, an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, told Fortune that reinfections were rare before Omicron for two reasons. It wasn’t until this February that most people had COVID-19 at least once. And previously, variants were not as different from each other, so people’s immunity better carried over.

“The more immune invasive a variant is compared to the previous or recent ones that have been circulating, the more you might see this phenomenon of somebody getting reinfected in a shorter period of time than what we saw in the pre-Omicron era,” Doron said. “We did not see reinfection within the same year before Omicron came around, and now, we do.”

When asked how a second infection later this year would affect her family, Patzer winced, “Oh god, that would really screw me up,” adding that with the rising price of gas and oil to heat her home in frosty Alaska, “It’s going to really throw us off financially because we're kind of balancing right now.”

Australian health officials suggested reinfections could occur even sooner, less than a month after a previous infection, in their recommendation that the period of post-infection immunity should be narrowed from 12 weeks to 28 days. The CDC has not indicated it will reduce its time window.

Tom Frieden, who served as CDC Director during the Obama administration, said a newer subvariant, BA.2.75, that has barely had time to hit national headlines “appears to be even more transmissible” than BA.5. The fear is that cases will spread as paid sick leave policies from earlier in the pandemic expire.

“This is a reminder that paid sick leave should be universal,” Friedan warned. “The pressure to show up to work when sick – particularly for low-income workers who are dependent on regular paychecks – will result in the spread of COVID and other infectious diseases.”

Not everyone has the ability to work remotely from home if they get COVID-19. According to Andrea, jobs heavy on face-to-face interactions hold the greatest risk of workplace transmission if there isn't enough paid sick leave, and teachers are a prime example. Starting in August, one of the country’s largest public school systems, Houston ISD, will no longer extend COVID-19 paid sick leave, and teachers must use whatever regular leave time they have instead. A Twitter poll of more than 200 community members hinted at the impact that could bring on.

What are you doing if you catch COVID and are out of sick days?

— houstonisdwatch (@houstonisdwatch) July 13, 2022

In Maryland’s Montgomery County, an agreement that allowed public school teachers to take up to 80 hours of supplemental paid leave for COVID-related reasons, including vaccinations, was not renewed this month. The president of the local teachers union, Jennifer Martin, told Fortune she worries losing the agreement could affect the proportion of staff that stays home when infected and opts for a second COVID-19 booster—which Biden officials said they are considering this week.

“The last thing you want is for sick individuals to be coming into work and potentially making the school a place that's a vector of disease,” Martin said. “The harder you make it for people to have the time to get a shot, the less likely you are to get the reach you want with inoculations.”

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