OPM’s Guidance on the Ebola Virus

Usually when I receive important information from OPM, I paraphrase it and add my own spin. However, this time, I’m going to share it with you just as it landed in my computer because this is such a serious topic and it’s unwise to risk any misinterpretation.

While OPM has asked agencies to share it with all their field offices, it may take longer – much longer – for them to share it with you. So I’ve decided to shortcut the process by giving it to you now.

Dear Agency Benefits Officers,

Please distribute this information immediately to all agency field offices.

Federal employees from numerous agencies have been assigned to duties that could expose them to individuals infected with Ebola virus. All appropriate precautions are being taken to protect their health and safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Defense and others have issued guidance about training, monitoring for potential exposure, risk evaluation, travel/restricted movement, and medical clearance. The World Health Organization has declared Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) to be a “public health emergency of international concern” and the growing number of Ebola cases in West Africa has captured the attention of world leaders. The first cases diagnosed in the United States (US) highlight the importance of effective strategies to identify those at risk and limit further exposure.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Veterans Affairs and other Federal agency personnel are involved in the global or domestic response to EVD. The CDC has taken the US clinical lead and posts pertinent information at www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola. Hospitals and medical professionals are simultaneously refreshing their understanding of this disease and its management. We expect that carriers are also undertaking a comprehensive review to update and align policies.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is issuing guidance on Carrier responsibilities for handling enrollees and family members exposed to Ebola virus.

Carriers will notify their contract specialist in the event that their plan becomes involved in arranging the care of an FEHB enrollee or family member exposed to or infected with Ebola virus disease.”