Some economists say that most Americans are three paychecks away from bankruptcy.

Others say one or two paychecks.

If the coronavirus threat lasts much longer, we may find out who’s right.

The Hill, the Washington, D.C.-based publication that covers government, reported last week that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising people who might have been exposed to the virus to stay home and isolate themselves.

That’s fine for people like me who can work from home.

But millions of Americans can’t.

They have to use sick days — if they have them.

But few of us have the two weeks that coronavirus quarantines are supposed to last.

And The Hill said an “estimated 27% — 32 million private-sector workers in the U.S. — are unable to take a single paid sick day.”

They have to work sick or not get paid.

And with all the cancellations of conventions and sporting events around the country, a lot of service-industry workers are going to lose money anyway.

With the NBA season and the Kentucky boys and girls basketball tournaments suspended, and the NCAA basketball tournaments cancelled, the anticipated crowds of fans won’t be there.

They won’t be staying it hotels in those cities.

They won’t be eating and drinking in restaurants and bars.

That’s going to an economic hit for the businesses and the workers in those cities.

The Hill article said, “Data from the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak shows that of the almost 26 million employees at the time who may have had the virus, 8 million did not take any time off.”

That’s a lot of people out spreading the disease to others.

The article says that a proposed Healthy Families Act would require that all businesses with 15 or more employees “provide at least one hour of earned paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked — up to a maximum of 56 hours per year.”

That’s seven days.

Can small businesses afford that?

Can they afford not to in times like this?

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301

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