H.R. 7340: Chai Suthammanont Remembrance Act – Bill to Protect Federal Workers PassedYi Jin, Ph.D.
With the United States Congress and its constituents enduring such a tumultuous 2020, the public has barely noticed their recent introduction of a monumental bill to help protect themselves and all other federal employees from workplace exposure to coronavirus. This legislation, which passed in The House of Representatives on Sept. 30 and was introduced in the Senate the same day, mandates specific public health protocols federal agencies must follow to allow their employees to return to their offices amid the coronavirus pandemic. This bill – named the “H.R. 7340: Chai Suthammanont Remembrance Act of 2020” in honor of a federal employee in Virginia who died of complications from the coronavirus back in May
“This legislation mandates specific public health protocols federal agencies must follow to allow their employees to return to their offices amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
To be fair, the House of Representatives and Senate – and all American citizens, for that matter – consistently had bigger fish to fry over the past several months. At the outbreak of the pandemic in the spring, Congress first had to focus on quickly passing multiple bills authorizing emergency funding for hospitals, first responders, and personal protective equipment. Shortly thereafter, Congress quickly implemented an unprecedented $2 trillion stimulus bill to provide wide-ranging economic relief to millions affected by the global pandemic. Once this critical bill was passed, Congressional Democrats and Republicans have spent months focusing on other contentious topics: follow-up stimulus packages, allegations of Presidential misconduct, racial injustice protests in their home states, and of course their own re-election campaigns.
Trump Tests Positive, Senate & House Respond
However, the bombshell news that President Trump tested positive for COVID-19 and had to be hospitalized to address worsening symptoms seemed to create a renewed sense of urgency for them to fast-track the important federal worker protection bill. The bill was approved in the House and passed to the Senate, which immediately approved it and passed it to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for final editing. Such actions marked a significant perception shift from just two months prior: a bipartisan bill presented on the Senate floor back on August 10 sought to protect federal workers by putting all telework-approved employees on maximum telework status and reevaluating those unapproved to extend the opportunity to as many feds as possible. At that time, some 39,000 federal workers had tested positive for the coronavirus, with more than 100 succumbing to the disease. Yet despite continued growth in daily coronavirus case numbers from then to now, federal employees who were teleworking earlier in the pandemic have nevertheless started to return to their workplaces. This early reintroduction of on-site personnel follows the lead of President Trump and his Administration, who have pledged to show resolve despite the ongoing threat of coronavirus and insist that things will be “returning to normal” soon.
“…some 39,000 federal workers had tested positive for the coronavirus, with more than 100 succumbing to the disease.”
The continuing surge in COVID-19 case numbers has shown no sign of letting up as summer turns to autumn, and even the highest-profile federal workplace – the White House – has not been exempt from the grave risks brought on by the pandemic. After President Trump announced his positive test, quarantines and contact tracing were applied to all White House staff as well as all visitors within the past several days. It is now apparent that the President unwittingly participated in the spread of COVID-19 to attendees of a high-visibility event at the White House on Sept. 26. This outdoor group gathering – which was held to formally introduce Amy Coney Barrett as President Trump’s nominee for the open Supreme Court Justice seat vacated by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg – featured scenes of high-profile guests interacting in close quarters; while most guests exercised fair caution, it was unclear how strict protocols in line with CDC recommendations were being enforced. In addition to President Trump, numerous other attendees fell ill with COVID-19 in the week to come: First Lady Melania Trump, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Trump Senior Advisors Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller, and more than 30 other White House staffers and Trump Administration supporters.
New Legislation Eases Fears
Since that White House gathering – and despite the most serious health crisis to engulf a sitting President since Ronald Reagan’s assassination attempt in 1981 – The Trump Administration has, for now, hold off on taking action to mandate stricter social distancing and teleworking measures in federal workplace settings. With the Executive branch focusing on their reelection campaign, the Legislative branch has stepped in to make a concerted effort to protect themselves, their Washington colleagues, and Government employees worldwide via the Chai Suthammanont Remembrance Act. Legislation of sound mind that proves effective to federal workers typically trickles down in short order to state governments and non-government organizations (NGO), and then to private business workplaces. To be certain, employers and employees across all areas of the private and public sector are growing tired of teleworking and are anxious to get back into work in the safest possible way. That being said, recent litigation data reveals COVID-19 workplace lawsuits in the United States steadily climbing; the number is now approaching 1,000 cases, a trend that is exacerbating return-to-office anxieties on both the workplace and employer sides. Several forward-thinking Government contractors and private businesses are already anticipating the effects of legislative pressure and positioning themselves to stay ahead of the curve as they invite workers back en masse, by outfitting their workplaces with the best COVID-19 protection money can buy.
“Legislation that proves effective to federal workers typically trickles down in short order to state governments and non-government organizations (NGO), and then to private business workplaces.”
Private Sector Follows Government Lead
Carahsoft, a Virginia-based private enterprise headquartered 22 miles from the White House, holds 16+ years of experience selling IT hardware, software, and consulting services to federal, state, and local governments. In 2020, the number of inquiries Carahsoft fielded from their clients for COVID-19 prevention solutions spiked considerably, which led them to partner with Turing Video, one of Silicon Valley’s premier providers of AI-enhanced commercial technology solutions. Turing Shield is a state-of-the-art platform that deploys neural network machine learning algorithms to produce rapid and highly accurate temperature readings, taking less than 0.5 seconds per scan / display and measuring subject body temperature within +/-0.5°F The Turing Shield is a non-contact apparatus that can be applied from a distance of more than 6 feet, ensuring maximum safety for workplace administrators, employees, colleagues, and visiting guests. Additionally, Turing provides various durable mounting options for the system to reduce installation hassles, increase usage frequency and ROI, and create safer custom environments to reduce the risk of COVID spread
Turing’s algorithms can even detect whether or not each passing subject is wearing a face covering, then sound an alarm instructing any violator to put his/her mask on. In parallel, Turing’s Smart AI Analytics Servers execute and manage secure subject data collection, in case contact tracing is required to quarantine potentially exposed visitors, maximizing workplace safety, and mitigating legal risk. Turing Shield can even be wired to operate automatic doors so that workplace entry is dependent on mask compliance; it can be mounted easily in a permanent secure location at any facility entryway so it can serve employees AND customers in a hassle-free process, increasing usage frequency and ROI and, more importantly creating safer environments to reduce risk of COVID spread.
In recent months Carahsoft has outfitted several Government agencies with Turing Shield and other innovative COVID workplace protection solutions that align with CDC guidelines and HIPAA compliance standards. Additionally, hundreds of forward-thinking consumer-facing corporations – Costco, Coca-Cola, Albertsons, and Alaska Airlines to name a few – have followed the lead of Carahsoft and its federal clients and implemented similar advanced technology solutions in their workplaces and commercial spaces. Whether their office is on 1 Main Street, 99 Wall Street, or even 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Americans returning to their workplace soon has been acknowledged by the highest lawmakers in the land as inevitable, even as coronavirus swirls all around and readies itself for a second winter wave. Therefore, businesses of all shapes and sizes would spare no expense investing in infrastructure that protects workplace risk while simultaneously aligning themselves with the upcoming workplace safety legislation.
Interested in Learning More?
The Turing Shield is already being used by more than 600 organizations across the country, If you’d like to learn more about how the Turing Shield can help protect both your employees and the future of your business, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 866.339.4268. We’d love to answer any questions you may have — or provide additional information about how the Turing Shield is being used in your industry specifically.