Federal Agencies Cautioned About Sending Traveling Employees to Zika-Affected Areas

Acting OPM director Beth Cobert has issued a memo urging agency leaders to be mindful of health risks involved with sending federal employees to areas impacted by the Zika virus.

Acting Office of Personnel Management director Beth Cobert issued a memo today urging agency leaders to be mindful of the potential health risks associated with sending federal employees who travel for work to areas impacted by the Zika virus.

A copy of the memo is included below.

Monday, March 7, 2016
CPM 2016-04

Notification of CDC Travel Alert Regarding Zika Virus

This year, the World Health Organization declared a “public health emergency of international concern”related to the Zika virus outbreak in Latin America.  President Obama has emphasized that he wants the American people to be informed about the Zika virus.  The President instructed his Cabinet to provide education on this topic as part of his overall effort to protect the American people.  As a result, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is assisting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to make the Federal community aware of CDC’s Travel Alert regarding the Zika virus.

With the worldwide mobility of the Federal workforce, agencies should monitor this situation closely.  We urge supervisors and managers to be mindful of the health risks in determining the need for work-related travel to Zika-affected areas.  We recommend using appropriate flexibility to accomplish the necessary work using alternate means, such as teleconferencing.  Supervisors should carefully consider requests from employees who wish to opt out of this travel, and/or solicit qualified volunteers if travel is necessary.  Employees and families in affected areas should make every effort to minimize risk by preventing exposure to mosquito bites.

The CDC has published guidelines for individuals living in or traveling to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission.  Pregnant women and infants are at particular risk if they contract the virus.  As scientists learn more about this virus, we expect additional recommendations.CDC alerts and other key information are updated regularly on www.cdc.gov/zika/.

cc:      Chief Human Capital Officers, and Human Resources Directors

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.