Pennsylvania now has two confirmed cases of the coronavirus–one in Delaware County and one in Wayne County, which has many moms on high alert. When I first heard about the virus, I wasn’t really worried. Even though there is currently no vaccine to prevent it, I wasn’t losing sleep over something that may or may not spread to our area. I focused on what I could control–reinforcing healthy habits with my family and becoming informed on the topic.


Earlier this week, to address the fears of students, my daughter’s school brought up the issue at an assembly. My daughter previously asked me if we were stockpiling food; if my nephew, who had strep throat would get the coronavirus; and if we knew anyone traveling to China. The school did a wonderful job of answering questions like these and calming the kids. If you want to talk about the topic at home, be sure to find an age-appropriate video.

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to the virus.  The CDC recommends doing these everyday preventive actions.


I nodded my head as I read that list until I got to the last bullet point. Stay home when you are sick. This recommendation makes sense in theory but staying home from work isn’t a reality for many moms. Most jobs do not offer paid sick days or paid family or medical leave to their employees. When employers do, it’s most likely not 14 paid sick days –the amount of time you should isolate yourself if you think you have the coronavirus. 

Without access to paid sick days and paid family leave, millions of American workers can’t call off work if they get sick. And they can’t avoid needless exposure to the coronavirus. While paid sick days would help short-term recovery, paid leave is necessary for longer-term health implications connected to the coronavirus, including the extended quarantine period needed to prevent further spread of the virus.

Many small employers can’t afford to pay wages of employees who need to deal with virus-related time away from work. That’s why a state-managed insurance fund, like that proposed by The Family Care Act, is needed. The Family Care Act would create a state-managed insurance fund that provides paid family leave benefits to working Pennsylvanians who need time off from work. Unlike FMLA (Family Medical and Leave Act), The Family Care Act would provide paid family leave for Pennsylvanians for lots of reasons, like someone recovering from an unexpected illness like the coronavirus, someone recovering from medical treatments like chemotherapy or heart surgery; someone caring for a frail, elderly parent; or a parent whose child is critically ill, or for new parents taking care of an infant. Depending on the reason, an employee can file for leave for up to 20 weeks in an application year

Luckily, there’s something you can do to help bring paid family medical leave to PA. Text “FAMILY” to 52886 to sign up for action alerts and updates from the Family Care Campaign, the statewide coalition working to pass the Family Care Act. 

Texting not your style? Not to worry–you can also sign up (and learn more) at the Take Action page at

Disclosure: This story is brought to you by the Women and Girls Foundation. Although the site receives compensation, I pitched this story and the opinions are my own.