According to Politico, some members of the Trump administration are angry that there is no coordinated policy to protect government workers during a time of crisis — with some agencies responding quickly to cases in their workforces, and others withholding the information.
“The federal agency that serves as an international multimedia broadcaster for the U.S. informed all employees of its first known coronavirus case about an hour after it knew,” wrote Nolan McCaskill. “But the agency responsible for regulating civil aviation in the U.S. didn’t immediately tell technical operations employees about a positive test result at a Las Vegas airport, allowing them to continue working in a potentially infected area. Those employees, including technicians who had just completed their shifts, found out after a tower was evacuated.”
“If the Trump administration has a unified policy on how it is handling the grim march of the virus within its own ranks, it isn’t sharing it,” continued the report. “Just as cities and states across the country have developed their own responses to the outbreak — from closing schools, bars, restaurants, movie theaters and a mix of other venues to encouraging curfews and issuing shelter-in-place orders — agencies across the federal government are crafting their own policies on how to disclose cases of coronavirus. The result is a confusing jumble of messages that has angered federal workers and those who represent them.”
The problem, noted McCaskill, is compounded by the unique exposure of workers in certain agencies. “State has more than 75,000 employees, with more than 9,000 Foreign Service and Civil Service officers scattered overseas. DHS employs more than 240,000 workers, many of whom interact with people daily for work, such as employees with Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration. And the Department of Defense has roughly 26,000 employees inside its Pentagon headquarters in Virginia, but employs nearly 3 million service members and civilians worldwide, with a presence in more than 160 countries and nearly 5,000 defense sites.”
Workers are outraged about this inability to coordinate, and fear it will make everything worse.
“We’ve been getting a lot of mixed information,” said Mike Perrone, the president of the aviation workers’ union whose workers were put in danger by the Las Vegas incident. “The president has put out different information, then OMB puts out guidance, and then the DOT secretary puts out guidance and then the FAA administrator puts out guidance.”
“Nobody said nothing for how many hours? And they knew about it?” he continued. “I’m frustrated — very frustrated — because literally people are gonna get sick and people could potentially die or spread it to their families.”
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