Grocery store clerks, delivery employees, personal care attendants, police officers, and sanitation workers put health at risk to provide essential services, require protective equipment like respirator masks and gloves


Boston (April 2, 2020) – As frontline workers across the country protest unsafe working conditions and the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today called on the Trump administration to protect all frontline workers by ensuring they have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriate for the tasks they undertake. In a letter sent today to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Senator Markey argues that frontline workers – those who provide an essential or key public service – are critical in grocery stores, restaurants, delivery services, mass transportation, sanitation, prisons, utilities, security, and emergency response, among other sectors of the economy and need PPE such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Because these jobs put them in close contact with others, these workers are at higher risk for coronavirus infection. Senator Markey is calling on the Trump administration to take into account all of these workers when estimating the needs for personal protective equipment, as well as to provide workers guidance on how to best protect themselves. Senator Markey sent his letter as the Department of Health and Human Services reports that the Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies such as respirator masks, gloves, gowns, and other equipment is nearly depleted.


“Workers should not need to risk their lives providing essential services,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor. “The federal government must ensure that all frontline workers are valued and protected. In many cases, corporations continue to put profit over worker safety.”


A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.


In his letter, Senator Markey requests responses to questions that include:

  • How do FEMA and the Task Force define frontline workers for the purposes of estimating PPE needs?
  • Is FEMA including workers in grocery stores, food delivery, restaurants, warehouse and distribution facilities, food processing facilities, fishermen, delivery truck drivers, bus drivers, trash and recycling collection, sewage facilities, water facilities, and other essential public services when estimating PPE needs?
  • Is FEMA including non-hospital based members of the health care workforce, such as emergency medical technicians, police officers, firefighters, corrections officers, and urgent care and other outpatient care providers when estimating PPE needs?
  • What guidance has FEMA, the Task Force, or the CDC provided to frontline workers on how to protect themselves?
  • Do FEMA and the Task Force have a plan to ensure that frontline workers receive PPE, including products such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer?