Due to the nature of many federal jobs and its higher percentage of older employees, the federal workforce is at a relatively high risk for contracting the Coronavirus, according to the Partnership for Public Service.
Health care professionals who come in direct contact with those who have been infected are naturally among the highest-risk populations, it says, and “physicians, nurses, medical technicians and other health care staff make up 15% of the federal civilian workforce and are the second-largest group of employees in government after administrative and clerical employees.”
About three-fourths of those work for the VA’s Veterans Health Administration while the rest work for agencies such as the Army Medical Command, Indian Health Service, and the National Institutes of Health.
Many other federal occupations also don’t lend themselves to telework or even social distancing on the job, it added, such as airport screening officers, food inspectors, air traffic controllers and national security professionals.
Age also is a high-risk factor, it noted, saying that at the VHA, about 14 percent of medical personnel are above age 65 and about an equal percentage are 60-64. Government-wide about 14 percent are age 60 and above.
While there is no official count, estimates of the number of federal employees who have contracted the virus run into the thousands and there have been at least five confirmed deaths, including two VA medical personnel within the last several days.