To the editor:
Remember back when NYC was a virus hotspot and we were asking people from NYC to stay away from Greene County? Or if they came anyway, to self-quarantine here for two weeks?
Well, now the hotspots are in other parts of the U.S. and New York is asking people who come from those areas to self-quarantine for two weeks after they arrive in state.
This makes sense. We New Yorkers have been working extremely hard to get our infection rate down. People will be washing their hands frequently, social distancing and wearing masks here for the foreseeable future. Why risk allowing potentially infected people without symptoms who come from hotspot areas to spread the virus in our communities again?
This policy should apply to people who come from Greene County and travel to and then home from a hotspot elsewhere in the country. They should also self-quarantine for two weeks when they get back.
But here’s the question a new Greene County travel policy has been proposed to answer: If you need two weeks off from work to self-quarantine after your vacation to a virus hotspot, should your employer pay you “on the clock” for that time?
Greene County’s answer to that question for most county employees would be “No”. If a county employee travels to a high-risk state for leisure or any other non-work-related reason, the 14-day quarantine time must come from the employee’s vacation or emergency days.
Given that there would be additional details and a few exceptions, such as for employees who are able to work from home during their quarantine, the policy is generally a good balance of public health and personal freedom.
You are free to spend a week on a beach in Florida. But please plan to take three weeks of vacation for this, to include the two weeks you will need to spend in self-quarantine when you get back.
You’ve earned your vacation, but Greene County is saying you don’t have the right to spend hard-earned county tax dollars to subsidize your two-week self-quarantine if you choose to go somewhere the virus is spreading like wildfire.
Dr. Joshua Lipsman
Athens resident and Village Trustee, is a medical doctor and public health expert