Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Internal Revenue Service called roughly 10,000 employees back to work this week, but it is requiring that they provide their own facial masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus pandemic.

The state of play: Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee have blasted the plan, issuing a statement saying it's "completely irresponsible and unethical for the IRS to demand those workers obtain their own protective equipment."

  • A memo notes that employees who do not provide their own equipment may be forced to return home.
  • The agency has offered incentive pay to employees who volunteer to return to the agency first. The memo says that workers will be directly ordered to return if they do not volunteer first.

Why it matters: The IRS is currently at the height of its demand season, facing both annual tax returns and the disbursements of the federal government's coronavirus stimulus checks.

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Jul 28, 2020 - Economy & Business

The back-to-work puzzle

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

With an unending list of factors to consider — including the safety of air-conditioning systems, the risk of using public transportation, schools' reopening schedules and the needs of high-risk employees — the back-to-work puzzle is getting increasingly difficult to solve.

The big picture: At first, companies were pleasantly surprised at how well telecommuting worked, with many firms — including Twitter — saying they might go remote forever. Now, about four months in, remote work doesn't seem so great anymore.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in “several months,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci told MSNBC on Friday.

Why it matters: At the beginning of the pandemic, the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, met every day, but in the "last several weeks," members have held virtual meetings once a week, Fauci said, even as the number of new cases continues to surge in the country.