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A home care worker drives to her client in March. Photo: Lane Turner/Boston Globe via Getty Images

The coronavirus has made life even more difficult for the 5 million aides and workers who care for the frail populations living at home and in nursing homes.

Why it matters: These low-paid workers face the conundrum of seeing patients and increasing risk of exposure and spread, or staying away at the expense of their income and patients who rely on that care.

By the numbers: Home health workers, nursing home assistants, and other therapists and orderlies hover around poverty and are predominantly women and people of color, according to PHI, a research group that studies this group of care workers.

  • 9 out of 10 of these workers are women.
  • Half are black or Hispanic.
  • A vast majority have no advanced degree, and median pay is between $11 and $15 an hour with little to no sick pay and benefits.

The big picture: It is almost impossible for workers to bathe, feed and otherwise care for their patients while social distancing, and a reliable source of masks or other protective gear for them is not guaranteed.

  • That makes their already high-risk job even more high risk for them, as well as their patients who are most likely to die from contracting COVID-19.
  • If they, their clients or the facilities decide to hold off on services, they lose what little income they have.

The bottom line: "There's no doubt that we're being sort of forgotten in all this, and I fear that mentality is going to eventually come back and punish us," Joe Russell, executive director of the Ohio Council for Home Care and Hospice, told the Washington Post.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

3 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.