Biden Is Right. Pay for Home Health Workers Is Paltry.

In a speech this month, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, offered the third installment of a four-part economic plan being rolled out in advance of the Democratic National Convention in August. This set of proposals focused on caregivers — whether for children, older adults or people with disabilities — and is about “easing the squeeze on working families who are raising their kids and caring for aging loved ones at the same time,” Biden said.

His campaign’s sweeping set of initiatives, which represent a $775 billion expenditure in a variety of programs, aims to get significant traction among middle-class voters, whose struggles with caregiving issues have been exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic.

When it came to home health workers, Biden zeroed in on their paychecks. “They’re doing God’s work,” he said. “But home health workers aren’t paid much, they have few benefits. Forty percent are

Read More

Essential and in Danger: Coronavirus Sickens, Even Kills Public Health Workers

As a veteran public health worker, Chantee Mack knew the coronavirus could kill. She already faced health challenges and didn’t want to take any chances during the pandemic. So she asked — twice — for permission to work from home.

She was deemed essential and told no.

Eight weeks later, she was dead.

Mack, a 44-year-old disease intervention specialist, lost her life this spring after COVID-19 struck the Prince George’s County Health Department in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. The coronavirus infected at least 20 department employees, some of whom had attended a staff meeting where they sat close together, union leaders said.

The spread of COVID-19 underscores the stark dangers facing the nation’s public health army — the very people charged with leading the pandemic response.

“We’re the ones called to the fire to do this during an emergency. We are essential. People don’t look at us as

Read More

Next Showdown in Congress: Protecting Workers vs. Protecting Employers in the Pandemic

Congressional leaders are squaring off over the next pandemic relief bill in a debate over whom Congress should step up to protect: front-line workers seeking more safeguards from the ravages of COVID-19 or beleaguered employers seeking relief from lawsuits.

Democrats want to enact an emergency standard meant to bolster access to protective gear for health care and other workers and to bar employers from retaliating against them for airing safety concerns.

Republicans seek immunity for employers from lawsuits related to the pandemic, an effort they say would give businesses the confidence to return to normal. The Senate is scheduled to reconvene later this month.

The debate reflects a deepening schism between the major political parties, with Democrats focused on protecting lives and Republicans focused on protecting livelihoods.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed frustration over efforts to pass an emergency worker-protection standard, which keeps running into GOP resistance.

“They’re saying

Read More

Adding To COVID Stress, Families Of Health Workers Fight For Denied Workers’ Comp Benefits

James “Mike” Anderson was a hospital employee in suburban Philadelphia with a low-profile though critical job: changing air filters in COVID patients’ rooms.

By late March, new COVID cases in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, had ramped up to as many as 90 per day. At the hospital, Anderson handled air filters and other surfaces that might have been contaminated with the deadly virus, also known to hang in the air.

In early April, Anderson, 51, came down with what he thought was a cold, according to his family’s lawyer, David Stern. On April 13 Anderson was rushed to the hospital, where he died of acute respiratory distress syndrome from COVID-19, according to the county coroner. He left behind a wife and two children, ages 5 and 9.

James “Mike” Anderson, a maintenance mechanic at St. Mary’s Medical Center outside of Philadelphia, died of COVID-19 complications on April 13.

Anderson was

Read More