COVID Cases Are Up in the US — Should You Go to Work?

COVID is on the rise again this summer, and if you're feeling sick, it's probably best to work from home or call off.

Yes, it’s been more than four years since the start of the pandemic, but a new COVID surge has many employees wondering when they should ask to work from home again.

Remote jobs have gotten less and less common since 2020, with a wide range of businesses opting for strict return-to-office policies. Granted, the majority of statistics show that remote work is a boon for the average business, but nonetheless, these CEOs persist.

Unfortunately, though, COVID is rearing its ugly head again this summer, and finding a way to work from home maybe in the best interest of you and your co-workers.

COVID Sees Summer Surge in US

According to new data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the US is experiencing a notable surge in COVID cases that could have a serious impact on the 2024 summer.

More specifically, the CDC noted that 44 states across the US are experiencing an increase in cases, while only one single state is experiencing a decline in cases. And unfortunately, that’s common for this time of year.

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“Summer is back and we are about to have the summer bump, that we call it, of COVID cases. You know, we have a bump in the summer, and then it goes down in the fall, and goes up more substantially in the winter.” – Dr. William Schaffner, professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, to CBS News.

Suffice to say, a hefty majority of the country is seeing a serious increase in COVID cases, which means it’s time to think about what to do about your work schedule.

Should You Work Remotely If You Have COVID?

Given that the majority of states are experiencing a surge, there’s a good chance that those symptoms you’re experiencing are a sign that you’re positive. Still, it’s always good to test yourself to be sure, if only to avoid a bit of unneeded anxiety.

If you test positive for COVID, you should try to work from home. While we are no longer in the depths of the pandemic, preventing the spread of disease is always a good strategy for living, and given that most jobs have been proven to be as if not more efficient at home, there’s not much of an excuse. Your co-workers will thank you for it, too.

Remember, though, if you’re sick enough to hamper your work, taking a sick day is always an option as well. That’s what they’re there for, after all.

Can Your Company Make You Come to Work If You Have COVID?

In the US, worker’s rights are decidedly less protected than in other countries. For example, there is no federal law guaranteeing paid time off or parental leave for employees in any state in the US. Subsequently, it’s safe to wonder if business owners can force employees into the office, even if they have COVID.

Fortunately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) both have language that empowers employees to refuse the commute to avoid being infected.

“If the condition clearly presents a risk of death or serious physical harm, there is not sufficient time for OSHA to inspect, and, where possible, you have brought the condition to the attention of your employer, you may have a legal right to refuse to work in a situation in which you would be exposed to the hazard.” – the OSHA website

Unfortunately, this kind of thing isn’t easy to prove and doesn’t prevent the employer in question from retaliation like discipline or even firing. As you can imagine, the investigation process is quite lengthy and can involve legal aspects, so if you have COVID, it’s best to hope for an understanding manager than an aggressive lawyer.

How to Start Working Remotely

If you’re sick and your boss won’t let you work from home or if you’re just sick of the commute, you’re in luck. There are many ways by which you can go about working from home, you just have to take the initiative.

For starters, you might just be asking the wrong way. We’ve done a bit of digging to help employees find the best way to ask your boss to work from home, including talking about the many benefits and insisting on a trial period to get the ball rolling.

Beyond that, you can always find a new remote job that allows for more flexible schedules. While remote jobs have been on the decline, there are still plenty of opportunities out there for ambitious employees that are done with the commute, including at companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Written by:
Conor is the Lead Writer for For the last six years, he’s covered everything from tech news and product reviews to digital marketing trends and business tech innovations. He's written guest posts for the likes of Forbes, Chase, WeWork, and many others, covering tech trends, business resources, and everything in between. He's also participated in events for SXSW, Tech in Motion, and General Assembly, to name a few. He also cannot pronounce the word "colloquially" correctly. You can email Conor at
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