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Stories and information in our region on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many Retired Medical Workers Wouldn’t Qualify To Help Fight COVID-19, Study Finds

Ted S. Warren

Many of the retired health care workers who volunteered to help New York during the COVID-19 outbreak can’t join the frontlines. Because they risk becoming ill from the virus, they really can’t help relieve the health care worker shortage.

Nearly 100,000 medical workers responded when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked for volunteers and retirees to come help at downstate hospitals. 

But a new study has found several factors might prevent these essential workers from joining the fight. 

David Wiczer, a labor economist at Stony Brook University, says even if every former health care worker were recalled, about two-thirds of them have an underlying health condition themselves, or live with someone who does. 

“Now we have a really dangerous disease, and that means that these health problems are newly debilitating, and that's a big constraint on the labor supply.” 

Wiczer says underlying conditions like heart problems and obesity are more common in health care workers than in the rest of the workforce. 

And that means they are more susceptible to the virus.

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Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.
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