Decades ago, in a former employer of mine, a co-worker came in to work, and let it be known that she had been diagnosed with “strep throat.” Simply put, it is a very contagious bacterial infection involving the throat, easily confirmed and diagnosed. It is also easily treated with antibiotics.
I mentioned that it is highly contagious. You can contract it by being sneezed or coughed on, or by touching a surface that has been sneezed or coughed on by someone who has strep throat.
Like I said, it is easily treatable under most circumstances.
But what happens if you happen to be someone with a compromised immune system? I have mentioned many times, that I am asplenic, I have no spleen. My spleen was removed as part of my diagnostics for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. What this has left me with, is not just a condition of increased susceptibility, but an increased risk of complications, up to and including death. This situation exists for me with all kinds of viruses and bacteria including chicken pox, the flu, and yes, Covid19.
Upon learning that my co-worker had strep throat, I approached my concern about my exposure as we worked in a small enclosed office. He said, “well what do you want me to do about it?”
Here is what should have been done, often referred to as the right thing, she would have stayed home during her contagious period. But now she was at work, possibly contaminating the entire workforce. Instead, I was not faced with the decision of using my own sick time, to go home, so as not to expose myself to the risk. Oh, except I would not be allowed to use sick time, as I was not officially sick. Forced instead to use up personal time. She was sick, yet I was the one affected.
Let’s look at it from the employer point of view. Would it have been better for the employee to have called out sick from work leaving the workforce only short one person? Or should the employee be praised for coming in no matter how crappy she felt, but now the potential for multiple employees contracting strep, resulting in many employees out sick, leaving a huge work shortage to make up for?
Let’s look at the employee’s point of view? She was an adult, so she knew that she had a contagious illness. She also was lucky enough to have an employer that offered sick pay, so that was not incentive to come into work.
And finally, my point of view. I was now in the position of having to leave work myself, AND I WAS THE ONE THAT WAS NOT SICK! I am now being looked at as a pain in the ass and instigator. I was just expected to suck it up and shut up. While she was likely not to have any issue with getting over her strep, if I contracted it, I faced huge risks.
This post is relevant. I am doing it in two parts, normally when I do this it is because they are so long, or has multiple things discussed. But I am writing this in two parts intentionally. The next part you will see why.
But based on so far, given today’s attitude either in the some of the government in regard to safety precautions to dealing with the Covid19 pandemic, or the opinions of some of the public, if we are expecting the public to do the right thing, in the above situation, what was the right thing to do? And why?