Omicron Magnifies the Distress in the Health Care Labor System

Harris Solomon

In December 2020, to the tune of rousing cheers, the first health care workers began getting vaccinated against Covid-19. A year later, the cheers have died down, vaccination rates have plateaued, and the Omicron wave has hit the U.S. with one million daily cases registered during the first week of January 2022. Yet despite the hard work and sacrifices of health care workers, many of them haven’t seen pay raises.

As 2022 begins with another wave of infections, it remains imperative to shine a light on working conditions in health care in general, and in intensive care units in particular.

The Delta wave overstretched ICUs across the country, and ICU workers are now facing the onslaught of the Omicron variant with higher patient care loads, demanding work schedules, sick staff members, and a rapidly shifting set of protocols around testing. Amid this ongoing uncertainty, one thing remains clear: Workers are tired and toiling beyond their limits. Many are leaving the profession and signing travel contracts. Those who stay work in hospitals fractured by staff shortages as their colleagues test positive. In this context, workers need to be paid in wages, not platitudes.  Read more.