Local lawmakers say a Maryland agency needs to answer some tough questions about how it’s informing employees about positive COVID-19 cases.
Almost 100 employees at motor vehicle branches around the D.C. area have tested positive for COVID-19, including 37 in Maryland.
Twenty-eight cases have been reported at the Glen Burnie branch, six in Largo, two in Gaithersburg and one in Frederick. The branches reopened to the public this summer after being closed for months.
Changes have been made at area branches with plexiglass, temperature checks and other safety measures being added.
An employee from the MVA branch in Glen Burnie said she fell ill with COVID-19 after returning to work.
Renee Allen says she and colleagues were never told others had already contracted it.
"We're not being told anything,” she said. “It hasn't been transparent across the board."
Now, a pair of Maryland state lawmakers, Sen. Malcolm Augustine and Sen. Joanne Benson, said they expect to question MVA leaders about how the pandemic has been handled. They participated in a virtual news conference Thursday organized by Stuart Katzenberg, a Maryland representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The senators heard from MVA employees who said more transparency was needed to protect workers and the public.
“How in the world can we expect for the workers to do an admirable job when they don’t have confidence in the administration or the people that they work for,” Benson said. “This has an impact on the health and safety and welfare of not only the workers, but the people who go in the buildings, who go there for services. The public has not been fully informed.”
The senators want to ask about how the agency is notifying its workers about cases inside the offices. They also said they want MVA employees be permitted to speak with state legislators about any concerns they have about safety.
MVA Administrator Christine Nizer said the agency is now posting about positive cases in breakrooms to keep employees informed and continues to evaluate operations and make changes as needed.
Reported by Scott MacFarlane, produced by Rick Yarborough, and shot and edited by Jeff Piper.