October 6, 2020 – Today, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) sent a letter to Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Scalia and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Azar demanding increased protections for our nation’s frontline workers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
In the letter, the Chairs express deep concern that low-wage, essential workers lack the health protections necessary to access COVID-19 testing. One in every seven essential workers is uninsured, and about 50 percent of essential workers cannot afford unexpected medical expenses.
The Chairs also note that, despite repeated calls on the Trump administration to develop a national COVID-19 testing strategy, the White House has provided no federal recommendations to states as Governors begin relaxing restrictions. With no guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), questions around the appropriate frequency of COVID-19 testing for workers remain unanswered and workers face significant health risks on the job.
“Lack of clear and consistent guidance leaves employers, state and local health officials, and frontline health care workers responsible for developing and implementing often disparate protocols and procedures,” the Chairs wrote. “Clear and consistent recommendations and guidance on routine COVID-19 diagnostic testing for employers would prevent lengthy disruptions for essential businesses in the event of a localized COVID-19 outbreak, and they are particularly critical for protecting low-income essential workers and their families, many of whom have been devastated by this pandemic.”
The Chairs are also concerned that only a fraction of the funding provided by Congress for testing needs, resources, and expenses has been distributed by the administration.
To read the full letter, click here.