MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – After three people on Tinker Air Force Base were confirmed with COVID-19, workers and their loved ones are expressing concern that the state’s largest employer isn’t protecting its workers or their families enough.
“They’re out there saying that one of their biggest concerns is for the health and safety of the workers and their family, [but] what’s being done right now doesn’t show that,” said Emily Hannah.
Hannah’s husband is a civilian worker on the base. He told News 4 off-camera that at least one of those infected was working in a shop adjacent to his, and that not only do they sometimes share the same space, the infected worker and dozens of others share some equipment. However, only those who work directly with the infected person were sent home on leave.
People who fit the CDC’s definition for being at-risk are also allowed to go home on paid leave, but Hannah says these guidelines ignore people whose family members may be at risk.
“There are a lot of people out there that don’t have enough leave to make sure that they’re safe and not bringing this virus into their homes and potentially killing their family members,” Hannah said.
Her husband is also concerned by how many units still have groups larger than ten still working together.
“These guidlelines are being sent out by the president and the leadership of the country, but the biggest employer in America isn’t even following these, and I think that’s very concerning,” Hannah said.
Aircraft mechanic Travis Sweet opted to stay home for his own health, but he knows that’s a luxury most of his coworkers don’t have.
His team are forced to share headsets everyday, and he fears the sanitizing wipes and alcohol used to wipe down the mouthpieces won’t be enough to protect from the virus, which has been shown to last on surfaces for up to three days.
“I’m not trying to stir up trouble, I know they don’t have a good answer, but please stop sharing those,” Sweet said.
He’s worried about the safety of his coworker and their families.
“I’m the oldest guy on my crew and those are like my children to me,” Sweet said.
An Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex official released the following statement:
“Our top priority at the Air Force Sustainment Center, and in particular, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, is to ensure the health and safety of our workforce while we balance mission readiness and our support to national security. We take this responsibility seriously. Now more than ever, strict hygiene in the work place is a focus for our team. Strict hygiene practices include social distancing and hand washing. Employees should not shake hands and all commonly used surfaces are being cleaned routinely. We have several shared high-value items in use head sets. In light of the current pandemic, shared items, such as personal protective head sets, are cleaned prior to use and after return with CDC-approved disinfectant solution.
The safety of our employees, families, and community is the foundation of everything we do. We are working with our base medical staff and off-base health care agencies to ensure we mitigate the effects of COVID-19 using established Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Defense Department guidelines.
The most important thing our teammates can personally control is monitor for symptoms, and if they are feeling sick at all they should not come into work or engage others.
We are committed to provide a safe work environment for our teammates who generate readiness for warfighters and we appreciate their strength and dedication to our mission.”