Letter to Hon. Joseph Biden, President of the United Staes - Rep. Correa Fights for Health Care Workers Safety During Covid-19 Pandemic

Statement

By: Katherine Clark, Lori Trahan, Clay Higgins, André Carson, Bill Foster, Mike Quigley, Marie Newman, Cindy Axne, Ed Case, Carolyn Bourdeaux, Lucy McBath, Nikema Williams, Hank Johnson, Jr., Ted Deutch, Charlie Crist, Jr., Darren Soto, Al Lawson, Jr., Lisa Blunt Rochester, John Larson, Jason Crow, Sara Jacobs, Juan Vargas, Alan Lowenthal, Maxine Waters, Mark Takano, Linda Sánchez, Karen Bass, Adam Schiff, Julia Brownley, Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, Doris Matsui, Jared Huffman, Ruben Gallego, Gwen Moore, Adam Smith, Pramila Jayapal, Lloyd Doggett II, Mary Scanlon, Brendan Boyle, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Shontel Brown, Marcia Kaptur, Mondaire Jones, Mark Pocan, Rick Larsen, Peter Welch, Gerry Connolly, Donald McEachin, Marc Veasey, Eddie Johnson, Joaquin Castro, Sheila Jackson Lee, Veronica Escobar, Steve Cohen, Jim Langevin, David Cicilline, Conor Lamb, Madeleine Dean, Peter DeFazio, Tim Ryan, Ritchie Torres, Adriano Espaillat, Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velázquez, Steven Horsford, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Albio Sires, Donald Norcross, Ann Kuster, Alma Adams, David Price, Deborah Ross, Bennie Thompson, Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, Angie Craig, Haley Stevens, Elissa Slotkin, Chellie Pingree, David Trone, John Sarbanes, Bill Keating, Seth Moulton, Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Yvette Clarke, Grace Meng, Thomas Suozzi, Dina Titus, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Don Payne, Jr., Betty McCollum, Brenda Lawrence, Rashida Tlaib, Debbie Dingell, Andy Levin, Dan Kildee, Jamie Raskin, Stephen Lynch, Ayanna Pressley, Jan Schakowsky, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Danny Davis, Chuy Garcia, Frederica Wilson, Lois Frankel, Eleanor Norton, Jahana Hayes, Rosa DeLauro, Joe Courtney, Joe Neguse, Katie Porter, Nanette Barragán, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Norma Torres, Jimmy Gomez, Ted Lieu, Grace Napolitano, Judy Chu, Zoe Lofgren, Barbara Lee, Mark DeSaulnier, John Garamendi, Raul Grijalva, Lou Correa
Date: Jan. 14, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

Dear President Biden:

We write to thank you for the significant efforts your administration has taken to combat the
COVID-19 pandemic. Your administration has taken dramatic steps to increase vaccinations,
testing, and response to this ongoing crisis, and provide necessary support for families,
communities, and businesses to put the United States on the path towards recovery. However, we
are deeply concerned by the recent actions of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) to rescind the Emergency Temporary Standard for health care workers, placing these
frontline workers at great risk as we face the latest surge in the pandemic.

Over the past few weeks, the entire country has seen staggering increases in COVID-19 cases due
to the omicron variant. Over the course of the pandemic, Congress and our frontline workers
repeatedly highlighted the dire need for OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to
ensure that these workers are guaranteed strong, enforceable protections in the workplace specific
to COVID-19.

On June 10, 2021, OSHA issued an Emergency Temporary Standard to protect health care
workers, including doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers in health care settings from the
impacts and workplace safety risks of COVID-19, which went into effect on June 21, 2021. While
the standard did not cover numerous industries in need of meaningful protection for the duration
of the pandemic, it offered vital support for the individuals directly responsible for protecting
public health.

Section 6(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires that an OSHA emergency
temporary standard is effective until it is superseded by a permanent standard issued under nonemergency rulemaking procedures for OSHA standards, that the permanent standard be based on
the emergency temporary standard, and that the emergency temporary standard serves as the
proposed rule. Further, it requires that OSHA issue a permanent standard within six months of
issuing an emergency temporary standard. As such, it is past time for OSHA to promulgate a final
permanent Covid-19 health care standard, based on the ETS that was issued in June 2021.

However, OSHA has not yet issued a final permanent standard, and further, announced its plan to
rescind the emergency temporary standard for health care workers on December 27, 2021, the
same day the Centers for Disease Control announced new guidelines reducing COVID-19 case
isolation times for the public to five days, and seven days for health care workers unless hospital
employers say there is a staffing shortage. The removal of this OSHA standard as hospital
resources and workers are strained from grappling with record-breaking numbers of cases of
COVID-19 and increasing hospitalizations underscores the dire need for a permanent standard --
and retention of the emergency temporary standard until the permanent standard takes effect -- for
the duration of the pandemic to protect our health care professionals.

We have heard from frontline workers how they are exhausted and scared after combating this
virus for nearly two years. They have gone beyond their call to duty, and they are past their
breaking points. Rescinding this standard now, during one of the largest surges of this virus, puts
them, their families, and their communities at risk. These workers have labored and sacrificed for
the duration of the pandemic and it is unconscionable to remove critical protections that allow
them to operate in a safe working environment without a meaningful permanent standard in place.

We are in desperate need of a continued strong, enforceable standard to provide full protections
for these workers for the duration of the pandemic. Any delay in issuing a final standard directly
puts these workers across the country at risk of illness and death as a result of COVID-19. We
respectfully request an immediate resolution and urge OSHA to issue a permanent health care
standard to protect these at-risk workers for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, and retention
of the temporary standard so there is not further lapse in protections.

Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter. We would be pleased to discuss this further
with you and your staff at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,


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