Whistleblower: HHS Workers Without Training, Protective Gear Handled Evacuees
Allegations made in a Department of Health and Human Services whistleblower complaint this week have raised suspicion that the recent “community spread” case of coronavirus in the United States could be the result of a bungled response to evacuees from Wuhan, China, earlier this month.
According to two reports, one in The Washington Post and a follow-up in The New York Times, the whistleblower claims that workers from HHS’s Administration for Children and Families (ACF) were sent to assist with coronavirus evacuees while lacking the proper training and protective gear to deal with infectious disease.
Law & Crime noted that the complaint also includes allegations that those workers were not sufficiently tested for the coronavirus after being in contact with the evacuees and were permitted to leave on commercial flights.
(1) U.S. workers were sent to the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak without proper training or protective gear; (2) those same employees were not tested for the Coronavirus; (3) many of those employees returned home on a commercial flight; (4) after raising concerns about the wisdom of 1-3, she was allegedly reassigned and faced termination for speaking up through the chain-of-command.
The whistleblower, who “is reportedly an award-winning expert in her field with decades of relevant experience with impeccable performance ratings,” claims she was retaliated against for raising concerns within the department.
“First the whistleblower complained to Associate Deputy HHS Secretary Charles Kecker,” which “caused the administration to run around like chickens with their heads cut off,” Law & Crime reported. The complaint indicated that “HHS officials like Lynn Johnson quickly ‘admitted that they did not understand their mission’ and ‘broke protocols’ due to the ‘unprecedented crisis’ and the infamous ‘all hands on deck’ call to action by Dr. Robert Kadlec.”
Rather than address the whistleblower’s concerns, the agency said she was damaging agency “morale,” according to the complaint, and others who shared her concerns were allegedly “admonished” and “accused of not being team players.”
“The complaint also relayed a frantic and disgusted phone call with other agency personnel and experts–using inflammatory language to describe how career public health experts categorized the Republican administration’s initial response and follow-up. Words like ‘whitewashing,’ ‘corrupt,’ and ‘cover-up,’” Law & Crime reported.
The whistleblower report came just one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first U.S. “community spread” case of the coronavirus, which means “health experts cannot trace the lineage of where the infection occurred.”
That case was in Sacramento, California, which is just 40 miles away from Travis Air Force Base, where coronavirus evacuees were held.
Per The New York Times:
“The staff members were sent to Travis Air Force Base and March Air Reserve Base and were ordered to enter quarantined areas, including a hangar where coronavirus evacuees were being received. They were not provided training in safety protocols until five days later, the person said.
Without proper training or equipment, some of the exposed staff members moved freely around and off the bases, with at least one person staying in a nearby hotel and leaving California on a commercial flight. Many were unaware of the need to test their temperature three times a day.”
Suspicions were quickly raised that the whistleblower’s allegations might be connected to the case of community transmission, as noted by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes: