About 1,000 New York City Health Department employees have signed a letter blasting the agency’s return-to-office guidelines, accusing it of failing to communicate internal COVID-19 cases and not following a “science-informed” approach, including masking and social distancing.
“It’s a huge contradiction because we’re the Health Department,” one agency worker told The Post.
“We, of all agencies, are falling short of implementing an evidence-based and science-informed return-to-office process.”
“We’re not just whiny people who want to sit at home in sweatpants on our laptops,” a second DOH employee said.
“We are all so committed and dedicated to public health, and so hardworking. But we want scientific evidence explaining why it’s safe to go back to the office.”
Their eight-page Oct. 1 letter to DOH Commissioner Dave Chokshi says the agency’s Queens headquarters lacks onsite COVID-19 testing and sufficient supplies of hand soap and sanitizer.
“We’ve continuously found hand sanitizing stations empty on the 11th floor and a lack of hand soap available at 11th-floor kitchen sinks, despite having placed several service requests,” the fed-up public health workers wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Post.
In addition, not all employees are adhering to mask rules — and instead of having supervisors enforce them, workers are asked to “police each other,” which creates uncomfortable situations, according to the letter.
The open cubicle setting at Long Island City headquarters also doesn’t allow for social distancing because desks are closer than six feet apart, a third DOH worker told The Post.
The letter requests agency officials “regularly provide information about our actual risks at the worksite, based on available evidence,” including the number of staff infected with COVID-19 and the “date of diagnosis at different DOHMH worksites.”
“Be transparent with actual details on airflow, expected transmission rate in our workplace settings, the rationale for removing the physical distancing requirement, and why it is considered safe to have us eat at our desks,” it says.
The exasperated agency workers also want to know why the commissioner didn’t question the mayor’s decision to force all 300,000 city workers back to their desks full-time starting Sept. 13 if it isn’t safe.
They note that Chokshi told them during an internal town hall meeting in August that productivity hadn’t suffered from remote work during the pandemic — despite the mayor saying that municipal workers don’t get as much done at home.
The Health Department has led the city’s response to the pandemic that’s sickened over 1 million New Yorkers and killed nearly 35,000 residents.
This exchange during a very overlooked zoom briefing about the Key to NYC revealed DOH officials flouting these guidelines.
Here's some more proof of @NYCHealthCommr's negligence and dereliction. During a #KeyToNYC zoom hearing, a citizen asked about the DOH officials flaunting of pandemic guidelines and the DOH rep suddenly bailed and the @NYCDoITT commish disregarded it and said it was irrelevant pic.twitter.com/yipNCVbOcX— This is JQ LLC (@ImpunityCity) October 20, 2021