Federal Government Employees Resist Returning to Work Due to the Spread of Delta Variants – Despite Huge Backlogs and Wait Times for Passports and Benefits
- Federal government employees struggle with personal work with the Delta variant, increasing the number of COVID cases
- Agencies are making plans for hundreds of thousands of workers to return to the office after Labor Day, with a full return planned by the end of the year
- Unions Representing Federal Workers Are Concerned About the Delta Variant
- Delta variant is responsible for 83 percent of all new infections on US soil
Federal government employees, who are due to return to their offices this fall, are struggling with personal work with the Delta variant, increasing the number of COVID cases in the United States.
The Biden administration released a memo in June outlining the goals for the large-scale return to personal work across the administration. Federal agencies were asked to respond by July 19 with a detailed plan for their office buildings.
That plan included hundreds of thousands of workers returning to the office after Labor Day, with a full return planned by the end of the year.
But now there is growing concern among Biden administration officials and unions representing federal workers about returning to personal work for the more than 2.1 million federal employees, The Washington Post reported.
Federal government employees struggle with personal work with the Delta variant, increasing the number of COVID cases
President Joe Biden’s administration has asked agencies for plans for personal work
The detailed plans submitted to the White House for the agencies’ reopening include COVID provisions, including office cleaning, testing, staggered work schedules and social distancing offices. Also, some jobs will continue to qualify for full-time and part-time telecommuting.
But rising COVID cases across the country are causing some federal workers to worry that this won’t be enough.
The US registered more than 42,706 new cases on Tuesday with a seven-day moving average of nearly 37,056.
Just three weeks ago, the seven-day moving average was 10,678 new cases.
Every state except Iowa has seen infections rise or steady in the past week, according to an analysis of Johns Hopkins data from DailyMail.com.
In addition, 298 COVID-19 deaths were recorded on Tuesday with a seven-day moving average of 274.
The number of fatalities, a lagging indicator, has not increased dramatically, but has instead increased slightly by 6.6 percent from the average of 257 recorded three weeks earlier.
Meanwhile, several aides on Capitol Hill have had a COVID breakthrough — testing positive after being vaccinated — while the White House admitted there were more staff-related COVID breakthrough cases than publicly announced.
Many White House employees are working back at the complex after the Biden administration’s initiation of telecommuting due to COVID restrictions.
President Joe Biden considers recommending that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, return to masking, another message report revealed, as the top doctor on Capitol Hill advised congressional staff to do the same.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxed mask guidelines in May, saying fully vaccinated Americans could go maskless in nearly all indoor and outdoor settings, except on public transportation.
But since then, the Delta variant has spread rapidly, now accounting for 83 percent of all new infections on U.S. soil and sending COVID-19 cases up 244 percent in the past three weeks.
Some federal employees were required to continue to work in person, such as post office workers. But there were delays in the postal service due to the combination of more people shopping online and the postal service implementing COVID protective measures to keep staff safe.
TSA personnel and customs and border protection personnel also had no choice but to work in person.
Other government departments have been affected, such as passport applications, which take up to 18 weeks to process.
The State Department has an application backlog of between 1.5 million and 2 million.
About 60 percent of federal workers telecommuted during the height of the COVID pandemic.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and other GOP leaders are pushing for the federal workforce to return to office.