DC, Maryland and Virginia leaders urge Trump officials to extend telework for federal employees

DC, Maryland and Virginia leaders urge Trump officials to extend telework for federal employees
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The leaders of the nation's capital region on Thursday urged the Trump administration to extend telework for federal government employees as part of a broader regional effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) wrote to the Office of Personnel Management warning of the potential consequences if federal employees are called back to the office too quickly.

"Each of us have made tough decisions about which employees in our governments are performing essential roles and must still repot to work locations, and which staff can telework," the leaders wrote. "This is a hard balancing act between ensuring the continuation of critical government functions and ensuring the safety and well-being of employees."

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There are roughly 360,000 federal employees scattered across D.C., Maryland and Virginia, more than any other region in the country.

"We encourage the administration to help ensure the safety of the federal workforce and our residents as we work together to fight this pandemic," the leaders wrote. "Failure to do so could lead to a rise in cases and delay our ability to re-open the region."

The three leaders noted that the White House's own guidelines on lifting social distancing restrictions call for telework to continue until phase three, which comes when a state or locality has seen a decline in cases for several weeks with no evidence of a rebound.

The administration earlier this week alerted federal agencies to begin preparing to have workers return to their offices if local leaders began lifting restrictions.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE and some of his advisers have pushed in recent weeks for an ambitious timeline to reopen parts of the U.S. economy, particularly in areas with lower numbers of infections. Trump has said he will defer to governors on how best to lift stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus.

There are roughly 846,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., with nearly 30,000 of those in Maryland, Virginia and D.C.