Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., on Feb. 11 reintroduced the Chai Suthammanont Remembrance Act, a bill which is designed to protect Federal employees who must return to the workplace from COVID-19 by requiring government agencies to publish safety plans to guide their return.

“On May 26, 2020, Chai Suthammanont, my constituent and a kitchen staff worker at a childcare facility on Marine Corps Base Quantico, died from coronavirus-related complications.  Confusion and uncertainty emerged as two of the largest contributing factors to Chai’s death.  Uncertainty on best practices and agency policies – and a general lack of communication with federal workforce staff – led to tragedy,” Connolly said in a press release.

The act is designed to protect Federal workers by requiring agencies to publish public safety plans and make sure that every employee receives them. The safety plans would include how each agency plans to implement recommended public health initiatives and provide details about workforce vaccination plans.

Additionally, the bill would require the safety plan to detail protections for workers who must travel, requirements for visitors, and contingencies for employees who fall in the high-risk category or who live in a high-risk household. The bill would also “ensure oversight of agencies’ efforts by requiring a report on the implementation of these plans from the applicable inspector general.”

The bill introduced in the prior Congress passed the House on September 30, 2020, but stalled in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.