Prince George's County is investigating after one of its health department employees died soon after contracting COVID-19.
Chantee Mack, 44, died on May 11.
Her family and coworkers believe she was infected on the job at the Prince George's County Health Department.
"[She] went above and beyond her duties, loyal, committed, knew her work well, a mentor, a teacher," said Rhonda Wallace, Mack's coworker and union president for health department workers.
"She was an excellent employee. She stepped up to the plate," Prince George's County Health Director Dr. Ernest Carter said after Mack's death.
An investigative report from Kaiser Health News revealed that Mack was denied approval for telework after explaining she had underlying health conditions.
"Everybody in the health department, starting with me, knew we needed to save lives," Carter said when News4 asked him about the report.
"County executive Alsobrooks did ask for situational telework, but the health department didn't buy into that," Wallace told News4.
Wallace said a number of employees were denied telework, including the department's first confirmed case, a pregnant woman who worked in close quarters with Mack.
"When out of 19 staff in our program, nine of them contracted the virus I think that's when we started to get a little bit of communication, but it was not sufficient," Wallace said.
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"I want Mrs. Mack's family to know that we are so very sorry for their loss. Their loss is also our loss," Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said.
Now, the county is investigating the circumstances surrounding Mack's death.
"I want to know what happened. I know Dr. Carter wants to make sure there is nothing different that we should be doing right now to make sure we are protecting the health and safety not only of Prince Georgians, but those who are working on the front line to make sure every day that this work gets done," Alsobrooks said.
"My thoughts were: Great, this is coming to light and people are going to be accountable. Because we all felt things were being pushed under the rug," Wallace said.
According to the union, conditions for health department workers have improved and more of them are being allowed to telework.