Some Won't Work During a Pandemic

NEW YORK, Oct. 1 (UPI) — New York first responders, accustomed to putting their lives on the line, may be reluctant to do during a potentially lethal pandemic, researchers suggest.

Lead author Dr. Robyn Gershon of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health finds more than 50 percent of the New York metropolitan area first responders and other essential workers may be absent from work during a serious pandemic — even if they are healthy.

The study involved more than 1,100 workers including hospital employees, police and fire department personnel, emergency medical services workers, public health workers and correctional facility officers, Gershon says.

An estimated 80 percent of the workers would be available to report to duty, but 65 percent say they would be willing to show up for work — the percent willing ranged from a high of 74 percent for public health workers to a low of 56 percent of correctional workers. In combination, less than 50 percent of these essential workers were both willing and able to report to duty.

“The data indicate that non-illness related shortfalls among essential workers could be substantial,” Gershon says in a statement.

The workers say their ability to work during a serious pandemic was associated with workplace safety measures — such as an employer provided respirator and pandemic vaccine — and trust in the employer’s ability to protect workers from harm, the researchers found.

The findings are published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

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