We’re all connected, living in a city. Nothing brings that home more than the start of cold and flu season.

Those of us who have paid sick time at our jobs take for granted that we can afford to go to the doctor for preventive care, or stay home when we’re contagious.

But very few workers in the restaurant, retail and hospitality fields – the industries our booming city depends on – have access to that basic right.

They have to decide between losing a paycheck or even their job, and taking time off for their health. It’s a cruel choice, and it’s even harder on the children who go to school sick because a parent can’t take time off to watch them at home.

With thousands of Portland workers making these lose-lose decisions, the public health consequences are obvious. Last summer, an outbreak of norovirus in Virginia was traced to a Chipotle employee whose manager had denied them sick leave. It’s easy to imagine that happening here.

It’s not only our consciences that are affected by each other’s misfortunes. When you get sick, I’m likelier to get sick, too.

I urge the Portland City Council to adopt the earned paid sick-time ordinance introduced last month. Universal paid sick leave – for all workers, including the many employed in multiple part-time jobs and in small businesses – keeps us all healthy.

Anna Kellar

Portland