Woong Chang was working as a bartender in an upscale Washington restaurant in 2009 when he started feeling symptoms of what turned out to be H1N1, or swine flu. Despite having a fever, a swollen throat and congestion that made it hard to breathe, he went to work. “Looking back on it now, I most definitely should not have gone into work, but I literally could not afford to miss a day,” he explains.
This year’s flu season may not be as bad as the H1N1 epidemic, but it has hit people hard nonetheless. By mid-January in the District, flu cases had already increased 300 percent beyond the 2011-12 season total. Influenza is a serious illness, and we should be serious about preventing its spread. One way to limit the transmission of viruses is to keep sick people at home and out of their workplaces. Individuals with paid sick leave are more likely to stay home to recuperate, sparing their co-workers and the public from exposure to their illnesses.