Feb 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Ron Wyden asks HHS how agency employees are tested for coronavirus

HHS Secretary Alex Azar testifies on the agency's FY2021 budget on Feb. 27. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, told Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday that he was alarmed by a whistleblower's recent allegations that federal personnel received U.S. evacuees from the coronavirus outbreak in China without adequate protective gear or training.

Driving the news: Vice President Mike Pence replaced Azar as the administration's point person for handling the coronavirus this week.

What he's saying: Wyden, in a Friday letter, said "it is particularly concerning that ACF human services personnel, with limited or no public health or health care background, were sent to quarantine sites without guidance, training, or information."

  • He asked Azar for details on HHS protocols for deploying medical and agency personnel to quarantine centers that readmit U.S. citizens and whether the agency is ensuring that all HHS employees potentially exposed to the coronavirus are being tested for it.
  • HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Flashback: Democratic 2020 contenders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have denounced President Trump's response to the crisis and his budget cuts to the Centers for Disease Control.

Read Wyden's full letter:

Go deeper... Coronavirus updates: WHO raises global threat level to "very high"

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FCC to propose fining wireless carriers for location sharing

FCC commissioners, with chairman Ajit Pai at left, testify before a House committee in Dec. 2019. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The FCC plans to propose fines against wireless carriers totaling roughly $200 million for improperly sharing customers' location information with outside parties, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: Lawmakers and others have been calling for agency action for over a year after revelations that location data from AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint made its way to a resale market used by bounty hunters.

Pelosi and Schumer call for paid sick leave for coronavirus patients

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer at a news conference in the Capitol, May 15, 2019. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged the Trump administration to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus by stepping up workers' protections with a series of new measures.

Details: Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement the administration should introduce paid sick leave for those impacted by COVID-19, enable widespread and free coronavirus testing access, expand programs such as SNAP food stamps, and reimburse patients for noncovered costs related to the virus.

Go deeperArrowMar 9, 2020 - Health

3 immigrant kids in U.S. custody have coronavirus

Woman waves a paper heart to kids in the U.S.'s largest migrant children detention center Photo: Gianrigo Marletta/AFP via Getty Images

Three immigrant minors in government custody who had crossed into the U.S. without their parents are confirmed to have the novel coronavirus, according to a statement by Health and Human Service's (HHS) Office of Refuge Resettlement (ORR).

Between the lines: Of the roughly 3,500 children in ORR’s care, these are the first with confirmed cases of coronavirus. HHS had earlier stopped sending immigrant minors to shelters in California and Washington state, and now has stopped placing migrant children in New York as well.

Go deeperArrowMar 26, 2020 - Health