On Wednesday, the same day that the World Health Organization officially declared the global coronavirus outbreak a “pandemic,” a Republican senator blocked an emergency bill that would have required employers to immediately guarantee 14 days of sick leave with pay during public health crises.
According to a report by HuffPo on Wednesday, Washington Senator Patty Murray attempted to push the emergency bill through the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — only to have her move halted by the committee’s Republican chair, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander.
The Republican stalled the bill despite a recent poll showing widespread public support for paid sick leave legislation. According to a HuffPo/YouGov poll released last week, 75 percent of Americans — including 67 percent of Republicans — say that they favor mandatory paid sick leave requirements.
Murray is the ranking Democrat on the health committee. Her state has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with 267 cases statewide, including 24 fatalities.
At least 1,000 people in the U.S. have already contracted the coronavirus, with the possibility of many more undetected cases due to what one leading scientific journal called the Donald Trump administration’s “badly bungled” response to the outbreak, which has left health care providers with a shortage of testing kits to determine whether individuals carry the deadly virus.