WASHINGTON D.C. (NEXSTAR) — In a story first reported by the Washington Post, a Health and Human Services whistleblower alleges department employees did not have proper safety equipment when receiving Americans returning from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China. Washington lawmakers are concerned the administration is not prepared to handle the response to the coronavirus outbreak.
A whistleblower is charging that US Health and Human Services employees did not use proper protective gear when they worked with Americans evacuated from Wuhan China who were headed to quarantine in California and Texas.
“It was kind of chaotic on the ground—to knowledge were protocols followed at all times?” said Representative Jimmy Gomez of California.
“I’m not aware of any violation of quarantine or isolation protocols,” said Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services.
After that exchange with the secretary of Health and Human Servies Thursday, California Congressman Jimmy Gomez said the whistleblower had contacted his office.
Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader said it appears there was a break down in communication inside the government.
“CDC had people there also that did have a much higher degree of preparedness, in terms of equipment in terms of masks, suits,” said Schrader.
The whistleblower complaint also alleges the employees in were not tested for the virus and some boarded commercial flights to return home.
Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus said this is one more sign the administration is not prepared for the coronavirus.
“When Trump took over, he just stripped away a lot of the positions that were put in place to deal with this issue,” said Titus. “He’s also put political people out front as opposed to medical experts.”
The whistleblower’s complaint alleges Health and Human Services threatened to fire the whistleblower. An HHS spokesperson said in a statement only that the complaint is being taken seriously and the whistleblower is being provided protections required by law.