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Emerging concerns

  • Some in-person essential workers, including farm workers, are still ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Spectrum News, March 19, 2021; WBUR, February 5, 2021.
  • Women, people of color, and immigrants comprise the majority of the essential workforce. Associated Press, May 1, 2020.
  • Essential workers are more likely to live with children and others who also have front-line jobs. Associated Press, May 1, 2020.
  • Undocumented farmworkers are excluded from federal benefits or protections in the CARES Act. National Public Radio, May 13, 2020.
  • Mortality rates for COVID-19 are higher among older people, people with chronic conditions, and Black and brown individuals. New England Journal of Medicine, July 30, 2020; Time, May 27, 2020.

Ethical principles

  • Ensure that public health policies and plans are sensitive to race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and other unique characteristics of individuals affected by the policies or plans. APHA Code of Ethics 4.5.11.
  • See ethical guidelines in this Dashboard to Implement Control Measures Equitably.

Recommendations and Practices

Emerging concerns

  • Essential workers are more likely to live below or just above the federal poverty line. Associated Press, May 1, 2020.
  • Approximately 1 in 7 essential workers lack health insurance. Kaiser Family Foundation, May 1, 2020.
  • Temporary hazard pay for grocery store workers at major chains has ended. Vox, May 18, 2020.
  • Flexible leave policies for workers are ending. Bloomberg News, June 3, 2020.

Ethical principles

  • Governments should ensure that public sector workers are paid in a timely manner and make efforts to ensure that actors in the private and nongovernmental sectors fulfill their own obligations to pay their employees and contractors. WHO Ethics in an Outbreak
  • Fair remuneration for frontline workers includes the provision of financial support during periods in which workers are unable to carry out their normal responsibilities because of an infection acquired on the job. WHO Ethics in an Outbreak
  • Frontline workers who become sick, as well as any immediate family members who become ill through contact with the worker, should be ensured access to the highest level of care reasonably available. WHO Ethics in an Outbreak

Recommendations and Practices

Page last updated April 10, 2021.