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Colorado Edition: Federal COVID sick leave ends; infrastructure law boosts firefighters; hiking group welcomes all body types

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David Zalubowski
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AP
A placard of rules for customers to follow hangs on the door of a retail store on May 9, 2020 in Denver.

The U.S. is one of a handful of industrialized nations without a national paid sick leave policy, which leaves many workers with a difficult choice — whether to go to work feeling unwell, or risk their paycheck by staying home. For a time, federal COVID-19 leave programs helped give many employees time to recover without risk of infecting coworkers or customers. But those federal protections have expired, leaving the nation in the midst of a second pandemic holiday season and the looming threat of the omicron variant. Rae Ellen Bichell of Kaiser Health News explains the impact.

Wildfire seasons are growing more severe and more dangerous. At the same time, the federal government is losing experienced people to fight blazes, partly due to low pay and benefits. But, as Nate Hegyi with the Mountain West News Bureau explains, the new federal infrastructure law aims to reverse that trend by boosting compensation for firefighters.

With an unusually dry and warm start to December, many Coloradans may be spending extra time on the state’s hiking trails. But for people whose bodies aren’t thin, white or cisgender, hitting the trails can be daunting. Rachael Gareri tells us about a hiking group she started, Fat Babes in the Wild, to create a welcoming community for people of all body types to claim and belong in the outdoors.

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