According to the latest ABC News analysis of the coronavirus’s spread, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland have all seen increases in cases, rates of positivity, and hospitalizations in recent days.
Despite a rise in coronavirus cases, the State Dept. declared this week that it was ready to progress to Phase 2 of its reopening plan-- sparking anxiety and anger.
Cleanliness in the workplace amid coronavirus emergencyDr. Syra Madad, senior director of NYC health and hospitals special pathogens program, shows where germs lurk from our hands to mouths and high touch areas in the office.Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of NYC health and hospitals special pathogens program, shows where germs lurk from our hands to mouths and high touch areas in the office.
Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty ImagesAccording to the latest ABC News analysis of thecoronavirus’s spread, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland have all seen increases in cases, rates of positivity, and hospitalizations in recent days.Despite those climbing numbers, the State Department announced this week that it has moved ahead to the second phase of its reopening plan -- sparking anxiety and anger among a workforce comprising many unable or unwilling to return.
The department is just one of several government agencies at which employees and their unions have expressed concern about returning to work too soon and putting them at risk.According to the department's"Diplomacy Strong" plan, which was launched in May, the second reopening phase is supposed to begin when there is a 14-day downward trend in cases, as well as the availability of public transit, schools or day cares, and open non-essential businesses.
The US Department of State building in Washington on July 22, 2019.The US Department of State building in Washington on July 22, 2019.Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty ImagesWhile some of those conditions have not been met, a State Department spokesperson told ABC News Friday the move to phase two was made by department leadership"using guidance from the White House, CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], and local governments combined with objective criteria informed by data and good judgment."
MORE: Face shields can't replace masks, experts say, but some hope they work as last resortWhat's most troubling to several employees is that phase two involves 40% to 80% of employees working on-site at facilities in the D.C. area.But it also says while mandatory telework is"lifted," individual bureaus within the agency"are encouraged to continue telework opportunities whenever possible within mission needs," according to a copy obtained at the time by ABC News.
The department spokesperson would not say whether each office must have a minimum of 40% of its employees back at work, only that phase two"allows up to 80% of Department employees to return."Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.
But in its statement to ABC News, the State Department indicated there will be some flexibility for individual offices to decide:"Employees who are in vulnerable populations are not required to return to the office. During this phase, telework flexibilities are still encouraged given health, childcare, eldercare, and transportation concerns," it said.
Still, many employees have been left confused about whether their bosses are empowered to decide."We hope that the Department reconsiders this decision or, at the very least, ensures that there is no minimum percentage of employees which must report to work," the American Foreign Service Association, the Foreign Service's union, said in a statement Wednesday.
AFSA has urged department leadership to reverse phase two, which employees were notified Monday began that same day.MORE: Trump's defiant campaign amid pandemic ramps up ground game, as Biden looks for another way"While we share our members' eagerness to get back to in-person work, AFSA believes that the criteria set out by the Department -- data, conditions on the ground in specific locations, and employee safety -- have not been met," the union said, adding that it expressed"serious concerns" in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Monday, particularly for parents, since most schools in the area are continuing to teach virtually into the fall.
So far, AFSA has not received a response from the agency, a spokesperson told ABC News. The department spokesperson has not responded to ABC News' follow-up questions.In addition to AFSA, a group of hundreds of D.C.-based career employees organized a letter to department leaders asking them to continue"maximizing workplace flexibilities" like telework, according to NBC News.
Blame whoever is in charge! Good. Mail-in Ballots; FRAUD L.A. County has 112% registered voters. 12% Fraud Patterson NJ, 20% voter Fraud - 40 people indicted. NY primary 5 weeks ago, still don’t know who won. California mailed out 25% more ballots than there were registered voters. IF MASKS work, GO VOTE !
I've NEVER seen so many incompetent people in one administration. Trump WANTS us to die. It's the only thing that makes sense! :( We, the people, do not have to follow Washington's recommendations. Or orders. Don't be selfish, it won't hurt you to be bored fot a few more months. There will eventually be a vaccine.
99.87% RECOVERY RATE............... So what you're basically saying is the non surgical face Masks that are made right next to Wuhan china that all the gas stations are selling around the usa, don't really work as well as the 'professionals' claim. WeWillVote WeWillVote WeWillVote Fake News. The death rate compared to the number of cases is now below 4% in the USA. Germany has 4.6%. Donald Trump management of the ChinaVirus response is the best in the world. hydroxychloriquineworks Trump2020NowMoreThanEver
So it isn’t just educators who have concerns? Nobody cares about the coronavirus scamdemic anymore. It is overplayed 5 months now. Um,...so has Pennsylvania!! Why isn't anyone mentioning us? Our county tripled in numbers in ONE month!!!!! Peaceful Protesters have been wrecking havoc on Richmond. Coronavirus’
If everyone stay at home for one month, then the spreading of the virus will be cut in the US. covid19 Oh. So they’re like everywhere else? Keep up the hard hitting investigative journalism. You’re doing great. Mom says hello.
Massachusetts becomes the latest state to make Juneteenth an official state holidayMassachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has made it official: Juneteenth is now recognized as a state holiday. Oh shit NC CLTgov step up!! bwhahaha Need some sort of win I guess, with how pathetic it all seems now, anything else?, some folks to kneel and a public holiday, everyone got some looted Nikes and a TV, we all good now?
Minnesota AG: Justice Dept. must investigate white supremacistsMinneapolis police have linked the ‘umbrella man’ who was recorded damaging a business during the George Floyd protests to a white supremacist group. In conversation with host Jonathan Capehart, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison calls on the Justice Department and other federal agencies to do more investigation of white nationalist organizations, which have ‘been able to flourish’ in his estimation, due to what Ellison sees as a lack of intervention. I think most of the criminal behavior in the protests is white nationalists pretending to be Black Lives Matter. No shit, welcome to Trumps America. POTUS
Secretaries of state ask for additional election support funding in light of coronavirusEleven state secretaries of state are requesting additional funding from Congress to address potential election issues when voters come to the polls in November. Not going to happen! Moscow Mitch already said when there is bigger voter turn out Republicans lose. More funding for elections will generate more voters. VoterSuppression VoteBlueToSaveAmerica Which states?
The $600 unemployment benefit is officially going to expire, but one state is considering reinstating itThe $600 weekly unemployment benefit has expired, so some state lawmakers are looking to expand benefits for their residents. To prevent Americans from falling off an income cliff California state legislators are taking matters into their own hands. Relieve giving out can’t exceed what a 40 hours minimum wage pays it will crear way more problem them benefits to the economy EconomyFirst Income cliff What are you all talking about Have you seen $appl and $amzn revenues There is absolutely no problem at all lol
State Democrats mount big comeback in 2020Democratic state party groups in traditional and emerging swing states are seeing a huge cash influx from donors looking to beat Trump. good, we must get that joke out of the white house. I new it biden is useing the money he and his son hunter got from china 1.5 bilion$
Australian state flags new steps to control surging COVID-19 casesAustralia's Victoria state recorded its second-highest day of new coronavirus infections on Friday, one day after logging record deaths, as the state's leader flagged the prospect of more rigorous steps to contain the spread of the disease.