Albany Times Union: Viewpoint: Use workers comp to protect front-line employees

A security guard at a homeless shelter in New York City, making just above minimum wage at $16 an hour, is diagnosed with COVID-19. Can he absolutely prove he got it at work? He cannot. Should that disqualify him from receiving Worker’s Compensation to cover his salary during his illness? No.

He and many others should be covered, because COVID-19 is like no disease we’ve seen before. Carriers with no symptoms abound.

Just as the novel coronavirus is changing so much in society, so too must it cause us to rethink the way we protect the livelihoods of those who are out there risking their lives to help flatten the curve.

This is, quite simply, a moral issue in these deeply challenging times, and the answer should be clear to all who believe in what is right.

The heroes of the pandemic are essential workers of every race, color and creed -— health care providers, first responders, and civil servants on the front lines, but also those workers who keep necessary stores and services open.

It is time to assure these workers that they will be cared for if they fall ill with COVID-19 and can’t overcome the nearly impossible hurdle of proving, for example, that an infected co-worker sneezed on them. We cannot ask these people to risk their lives and then worry about the cost of treatment.

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