The National Association of Community Health Centers chief medical officer Ron Yee said that about 23 percent of health center patients nationwide are uninsured, and 91 percent are low-income. Those patients may also suffer from housing insecurity — about 1.4 million people in the United States experience homelessness each year — or chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes or obesity. Such conditions can compromise the immune system, leaving patients at greater risk of catching viruses like COVID-19.
As global warnings about COVID-19 intensify, the message is increasingly stark: If you’re sick, stay at home. A wave of cancellations and closings have tried to keep even seemingly healthy people away from big gatherings or close quarters. But if you’re one of the millions of people in the United States who don’t have paid sick leave or adequate health insurance coverage, taking time off of work while you’re sick — or seeking medical care in the first place — can feel impossible.