New reporting from NPR shows that the Trump administration blocked the development of a federal rule that “would have forced the healthcare industry to prepare for an airborne infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19.”
David Michaels, the former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the proposed rule would have meant that nursing homes and hospitals “would essentially have to have a plan where they made sure they had enough respirators and they were prepared for this sort of pandemic.”
The news comes just as North Carolina experiences a new record high number of hospitalizations due to coronavirus. The state is also closing in on 25,000 total confirmed cases with more than 800 deaths.
North Carolina continues to struggle with a lack of PPE after receiving just 33% of the protective equipment officials requested from the Trump administration’s Strategic National Stockpile.
“This story provides more evidence of the Trump administration’s reckless decision making that has hindered our government’s preparedness for a public health crisis and made the American people less safe,” said NCDP Communications Director Austin Cook. “Cutting critical safety regulations in the name of ideology is exactly the kind of shortsighted, partisan approach to governing that North Carolinians have come to expect from President Trump. Especially in this moment of crisis, our first responders and health workers deserve a president who will fight to protect them, not strip away one of their first lines of defense.”
More highlights from the story:
- There are still no specific federal regulations protecting health care workers from deadly airborne pathogens such as influenza, tuberculosis or the coronavirus.
- Federal records reviewed by NPR show OSHA went step by step through that process for six years, and by early 2016 the new infectious disease rule was ready. The Obama White House formally added it to a list of regulations scheduled to be implemented in 2017. Then came the presidential election.
- In the spring of 2017, the Trump team formally stripped OSHA’s airborne infectious disease rule from the regulatory agenda. NPR could find no indication the new administration had specific policy concerns about the infectious disease rules.
- Instead, the decision appeared to be part of a wider effort to cut regulations and bureaucratic oversight.
Read the full story from NPR HERE.