The Department of Energy (DOE) has received confirmation that this week one new Headquarters employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was last in the building on May 27. Close contacts for this individual have been identified and notified. Work areas associated with this case have been cleaned and sanitized.
I am happy to report that one additional previously confirmed case has now recovered.
I am also pleased to announce that on Monday, June 8, we will transition DOE Headquarters to Phase 1 of our return to normal operations. Federal employees coming back for this first phase have been contacted by their supervisors with information and provided with virtual training on how to return, as well as the preparations and precautions we have taken in our facilities to minimize the risk of COVID-19 expansion and safeguard our people. These efforts align with our DOE COVID-19 Return to the Federal Workplace Framework and our DOE Headquarters COVID-19 Returning to Workplace Plan. Additionally, we have developed a set of Frequently Asked Questions to assist common questions we have received regarding the return to the workplace at Headquarters.
As we go forward, we encourage you to stay centered, positive, and safe. Remember to continue to closely follow the guidance of both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in practicing “social distancing.” Remember also to keep structure to your day, take needed breaks, eat a healthy diet, exercise, stay connected with your coworkers, friends and neighbors, and show acts of kindness to those in need. As a reminder, one way to help those in need is by donating to charities through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).
In the event you become ill, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) insurance carriers have certain responsibilities for treatment and coverage related to COVID-19. For general questions, please contact your local benefits servicing team. Notices to FEHB carriers can be found on OPM’s Healthcare Carriers page.
Additionally, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act created special, time-limited loan and withdrawal options for Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) participants affected by COVID-19. The loan options will be available no later than June 22, 2020, and the withdrawal option will be available in mid-July 2020. For more details and up-to-date information, please visit TSP’s COVID-19 page.
This is a challenging time for many of us. You may want to consider discussing your concerns with a trained Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselor to assist in relieving grief, loneliness, fear, and stress. Federal employees at DOE Headquarters can contact the Department’s EAP Specialist at (202) 586-4995. Federal employees outside of the DC area may contact Espȳr at (877) 801-5752 to speak to a counselor. DOE Federal employees may access the Espȳr website for additional resources.
With the coronavirus continuing to touch all aspects of our lives, your continued commitment to DOE’s mission and perseverance in delivering critical services to safeguard the nation’s national security are even more commendable. I appreciate all you are doing for our nation during these challenging times, and know we will get through them together. Be well and stay safe.
Secretary of Energy