HHS Whistleblower Says Workers Met Evacuees Unprotected

(CN) — A whistleblower complaint filed on Thursday claims the Department of Health and Human Services failed to follow safety protocols when health workers met American evacuees of the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

More than a dozen workers who met with U.S. citizens after they were evacuated from Wuhan, China lacked appropriate gear and training according to a Washington Post report citing the complaint.

According to the redacted complaint obtained by the Washington Post, the whistleblower reported that staff were not properly trained or “equipped to operate in a public health emergency situation.”

Evacuees from China arriving at Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, Calif., on Feb. 5, 2020. . (Krysten I. Houk/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services via AP, File)

The health workers, according to the report filed to the Office of the Special Counsel, were then allowed to come in contact with others.

The whistleblower, who is thought to be a longtime HHS official, claims she was unfairly reassigned after raising flags about the alleged conduct.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday stated that a spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. is inevitable.

In a press conference on the subject that night, however, President Donald Trump said he does not think the spread is inevitable.

“We are very, very ready for this,” the president said.

During the Wednesday night press conference, Trump announced Vice President Mike Pence will lead the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus.

The administration requested about $2.5 billion in emergency funding from Congress this week to aid a task force meant to combat the virus.

According to a World Health Organization report released on Thursday, there are more than 82,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally. More than 1,000 cases were reported as new within the past 24 hours. The U.S. has reported 60 confirmed cases.

“Public health efforts are targeted at both interrupting further transmission and monitoring the spread of COVID-19,” the World Health Organization said in the report. “As reports of asymptomatic cases increase, the need for reliable serology testing is becoming more urgent. There are a number of groups working on this and developments are being monitored.”

The CDC’s Anne Schuchat said during Wednesday’s conference that it is uncertain how the coronavirus will unfold in the U.S. She urged schools and businesses to consider “pandemic preparedness plans,” though the coronavirus has not yet reached the definition of a pandemic.

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