Economists and public health experts alike say paid sick leave is an essential tool — like testing, masks and vaccines — in the effort to prevent covid-19 infection and keep workplaces safe.

Yet the U.S. is in the midst of another covid holiday season, and federal laws that offered covid-related paid sick leave to workers have expired. Colorado, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh are among a small number of places that have put in place their own covid protections, but many sick workers across the country must wrestle with difficult financial and ethical questions when deciding whether to stay home.

“Millions of workers don’t have access to paid sick leave, and we’re still in a pandemic,” said Nicolas Ziebarth, a labor economist at

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