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Every mildly symptomatic carrier of the coronavirus who goes to a medical facility soley for a work note risks exposure to the virus (if they don’t already have it), puts health care workers at additional risk and exhausts the health care system’s scarce supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). Employers: Stop sending your employees to the doctor for coronavirus tests. We need hospitals, healthy physicians and PPEs to deal with the nation’s seriously ill, not employers’ outdated policies for medical documentation. 

Responding to the coronavirus, many major corporations are revising their paid sick leave policies to make it possible for sick workers to stay home without securing a note from a physician. Unfortunately, too many companies are leaning on old familiar ways – and the pressure they are placing on the health care system adds to the crisis. 

For example, emergency medicine physicians are seeing patient visits for the sole purpose of obtaining work notes. In some cases, employers won’t let their asymptomatic employees come to work without a note saying they don’t have COVID-19, while others want hard proof that an employee specifically has COVID-19 before they’ll pay for additional sick leave. People are coming to ERs desperate for documentation because their livelihood depends on it. 

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