WebMD News Brief

25 FEMA Workers Have Contracted COVID-19


April 16, 2020 - More than two dozen employees for the Federal Emergency Management Agency have tested positive for coronavirus, according to NBC News. Sources told the network Tuesday that employees were “dropping like flies” and unable to work.

At least one of the 25 workers was in the agency’s main response center for the COVID-19 outbreak, NBC said, and several workers were placed into quarantine. FEMA is the lead agency coordinating the coronavirus response, and the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., is the main facility where the federal government is managing the pandemic.

The employee tested positive on Monday, according to Politico, and FEMA employees at the center left at the end of the day. The agency started deep cleaning the facility based on CDC guidelines, the news publication reported.

FEMA conducted contact tracing to determine if the employee had contact with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in recent days, and reported that the employee and others who were in contact with the employee didn’t come within 6 feet of the task force, according to The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, a FEMA spokesperson confirmed that 25 employees tested positive but didn’t indicate how many response center workers were included in the group, NBC News reported. The spokesperson also didn’t respond to questions about the response center’s protective gear policies such as wearing masks and gloves but said the agency is taking “every precaution recommended by the CDC.”

“The health and safety of the workforce, including our interagency partners and members of the White House Coronavirus Task force, is a top priority for the Federal Emergency Management Agency as we continue to lead the federal operations in response to the pandemic,” the FEMA spokesperson wrote in an email to NBC. “Like many large employers, FEMA has employees who have tested positive.”