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The Food and Drug Administration told most employees to expect to continue working from home through at least May 1 to help contain the novel coronavirus, rejecting President Donald Trump’s goal of reopening the country by Easter.
“The health and well-being of our FDA family continues to be our focus as the Covid-19 pandemic evolves,” James Sigg, the agency’s chief operating officer, wrote Thursday in an e-mail obtained by Bloomberg.
Sigg said the decision was based on continued encouragement of social distancing by Trump’s coronavirus task force.
The FDA’s timeframe doesn’t include employees who cannot perform mission-critical functions from home.
The agency has been an important player during the pandemic as Trump pushes for quick approval of a drug to treat the virus. The president went as far as to say the agency hadapproved an older malaria medication to treat Covid-19 when it hadn’t.
An FDA spokeswoman said the agency didn’t have anything additional to share when asked about the email. Trump softened his stance Saturday on the Easter Sunday deadline he’s been promoting to get the country back up and running. Whenasked about the April 12 goal, Trump said “we’ll see what happens.”
The FDA is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside Washington DC, with offices all over the country.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, has mandated telework for all non-essential state employees and closed non-essential businesses. Maryland public schools are also closed through April 24. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser this week declared a public safety alert for the nation’s capital through April 24.
The Internal Revenue Service sent anemail to employees on Friday telling all who are eligible to telework starting Monday. IRS employees had been encouraged to telework but Friday’s move was characterized as a mandatory evacuation order.
— With assistance by Allyson Versprille
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