Outbreak At MVA Grows As Union Cites Unsafe Conditions

The number of COVID-19 cases among employees of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration continues to grow, with more than a dozen workers out across multiple locations as of Thursday. However, the union that represents those workers says the agency is doing little to prevent the virus from continuing to spread. 

On Sunday, Oct. 18, Kim Henson, who works at the MVA headquarters in Glen Burnie, learned via social media that three of her coworkers had tested positive for COVID-19 and a fourth was waiting on test results. Three days later, Henson learned that she, too, had the virus. 

“I had the back pain. I had excruciating headaches. I’m asthmatic, so my breathing was a little labored. It’s just been emotionally draining,” Henson described during a press conference Thursday hosted by the state branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, or AFSCME.

Henson said she is not surprised she caught the virus because the precautions the MVA has taken to prevent COVID-19 from spreading are insufficient. For example, Henson said employees can’t maintain the six-feet distances recommended by public health officials.

“They put these wooden barriers up,” Henson said. “But when I stand up, I’m still taller than the barrier that is supposed to be able to separate me from my coworker.”

When workers initially returned to working in-person in June, they were assigned alternating days, to allow them to maintain safe distances. But that’s no longer the case, and Henson said the office is crowded. 

“It’s just overwhelming,” Henson said. “I don’t even want to go back to work. I haven’t been released to go back to work. But what about when I do go back? How do I know that I’m not going to get infected again?”

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