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Health Care Workers Still Aren’t Protected


Welcome to the latest edition of “Corporate Accountability, Not Immunity,” a daily tipsheet highlighting key news and important facts on why Congress should not give corporations legal immunity from coronavirus-related harms to workers, consumers, patients and the public. Please send tips, feedback and questions to David Rosen at drosen@citizen.org.

EVEN HEALTH CARE WORKERS STILL AREN’T PROTECTED: More than 60,000 health care workers have been infected, and nearly 300 have died from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s a stunning increase compared to six weeks ago, when the CDC reports 9,000 health care workers had been infected and 27 had died. Moreover, the CDC says that the current tally is likely a significant undercount. The growing number of health care workers infected by the coronavirus is strong evidence that many people continue to work in high-risk settings without adequate protection. Eliminating corporate accountability would do nothing to curtail the dangers to health care workers – or anyone else.

SENATORS DEMAND INVESTIGATION OF OSHA’S FAILURES: The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is refusing to issue standards or issue citations against employers who are failing to take steps to protect workers from the coronavirus. In a letter this week, lawmakers responded by asking the U.S. Department of Labor’s inspector general to investigate OSHA’s lax inspections and lack of enforcement citations against employers for COVID-19-related complaints. They also asked the watchdog to probe the agency’s decision not to issue an emergency standard setting forth rules on how employers should keep workers safe during the pandemic. The letter was authored by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and cosigned by fellow Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Strong action by OSHA would benefit both businesses and workers, without eliminating our centuries old legal rights to hold others’ accountable for preventable harm.

MURRAY SAYS NO TO IMMUNITY FOR COLLEGES: U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said she opposes granting colleges immunity from accountability for coronavirus-related harms to students, teachers, administrators and employees, because it would essentially say, “it’s okay if students or employees get sick.” Murray’s comments came in response to a request for immunity from associations representing colleges and universities. More lawmakers must join Murray in making clear that business immunity is off the table, because it would lead to more preventable illnesses and deaths.