These Front-Line Workers Could Have Retired. They Risked Their Lives Instead.

November 23, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, Recruitment & Volunteers, Return to the Workforce

Last modified November 24, 2020

This article published by Kaiser Health News examines multiple healthcare workers who were in retirement and risked their lives coming back to work when the pandemic struck. Most of these front-line workers were 65 years and older. And despite evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that adults 65 and older are at a higher risk from COVID-19, Kaiser Health News found that 338 front-line workers in that age group continued to work and likely died of complications from the virus after exposure on the job. Some were in their 80s — oftentimes physicians or registered nurses who cherished decades-long relationships with their patients and didn’t see retirement as an option.

The aging workers had a variety of motivations for risking their lives during the pandemic. Some felt pressured by employers to compensate for staffing shortages as the virus swept through departments. Others felt a higher sense of duty to their profession. Now their families are left to grapple with the same question: Would their loved one still be alive if he or she had stayed home?

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