In 2017, Trump Admin Killed Pandemic Rule Meant To Protect Healthcare Workers

Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen / Public Domain

Sarah Shaiman

The Trump Administration’s deregulation mission likely played a part in the deaths of a number of healthcare workers.

After the 2016 election, President Trump made it his mission to cut as much red tape and bureaucratic oversight as possible. In doing so, his administration killed rules that likely played a role in the deaths of front-line workers during the coronavirus crisis.

According to an NPR investigation, the Trump Administration failed to implement regulations that would have “forced the healthcare industry to prepare for an airborne infectious disease pandemic.”

  • The bloodborne and highly lethal HIV-AIDS crisis set the standard for protecting healthcare workers in times of crisis.
  • The 2009 H1N1 pandemic illustrated the failures of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to set standards for airborne infectious diseases after thousands of healthcare workers became sick and four nurses died.
  • The Trump Administration reportedly stopped working on rules to protect health care workers if an airborne infectious disease came to the US.
  • The OSHA head at the time of Trump’s election said, "If that rule had gone into effect, then every hospital, every nursing home would essentially have to have a plan where they made sure they had enough respirators and they were prepared for this sort of pandemic.”
  • As a result of the deregulation, the federal government is reporting over 43,000 frontline healthcare workers became sick with underreporting on official death counts.

The federal rules would have regulated standards for personal protective equipment. Bonnie Castillo, the head of National Nurses United said that the federal rules “would mandate that employees have the highest level of PPE, not the lowest.”

The current head of OSHA Loren Sweatt has argued there is already enough regulation to protect workers. However, it has been widely documented that healthcare workers have been forced to reuse PPE like masks and gowns even after exposure to the sick.

Read the full report here.

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