State Government Workers Describe Unsafe Working Conditions During Pandemic

The state government employees who process unemployment insurance claims and work in state prisons, juvenile services facilities, hospitals and universities say they lack the resources necessary to do their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The workers spoke Tuesday at a virtual meeting of the state House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees.

Department of Juvenile Services workers were barred from wearing masks — even ones they brought from home — until they had a confirmed case of COVID-19, DJS transportation officer Denise Henderson told lawmakers.

She said even after there was evidence of the virus in the Juvenile Services system, they lacked sufficient cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment, or PPE.

“As an essential employee, you have to decide, do I go to work and risk infection and support my co-workers, or do I stay home and keep my family and myself safe?” Henderson said.

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