Admittedly, the norovirus outbreak at the Republican National Convention has led to all sorts of ‘shitshow’ jokes, but there really are policy and political angles to this.
As we’ve noted many, many, many, many times, the greatest norovirus vector–in English, from whom you get it–is food workers. Just to give you an idea, what I’m talking about, here’s the CDC (boldface mine):
Ill staff members in health-care facilities and food handlers should be excluded during their illness and for 48–72 hours following resolution of symptoms. Asymptommatic food-service workers who have tested positive for norovirus, which might occur during an outbreak investigation, also should be excluded or restricted per the FDA Food Code (10). Regulatory authority approval might be required for excluded food-service workers to return to work (10), although requiring negative stool results prior to returning to work is not recommended. Sick pay and sick leave policies that do not penalize ill workers might help to facilitate such staff exclusion.
In a week packed with news over concerns for public health, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) described his own history of opposing certain health and hygiene regulations, including those that require employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom….
“I was having a discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like ‘maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,’” the senator said.
Tillis said his interlocutor was in disbelief, and asked whether he thought businesses should be allowed to “opt out” of requiring employees to wash their hands after using the restroom.
The senator said he’d be fine with it, so long as businesses made this clear in “advertising” and “employment literature.”
“I said: ‘I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says “We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom,” Tillis said.
“The market will take care of that,” he added, to laughter from the audience.
Yuk Yuk! In more ways than one. Snark aside, we could greatly reduce the spread of norovirus if sick food workers were able to stay home.
There are policies here we could adopt to improve our health. And one party is standing athwart a bucket of puke, yelling “free market.”