Joe Biden is calling for the federal government to set enforceable standards for protecting workers from COVID-19 and to guarantee all workers access to testing and personal protective equipment.

Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should impose requirements on employers that include social distancing, improved ventilation and sanitation procedures as well as personal protective equipment. 

“This isn’t a debate about whether to reopen (the economy), it’s about how we make reopening work for everyone,” Biden said Wednesday.

“The employees at the White House get daily COVID-19 tests. They know they are safe before they go to work — and they know their co-workers are safe. They have the confidence to resume their lives. Workers across the country aren’t asking for daily testing — they’re just asking for regular, reliable access to tests. Don’t they deserve that?”

He didn’t address the needs of farmworkers or food processing workers directly, although advocates for them have been pushing for similar requirements. 

In April, OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance recommending meat and poultry plants should implement social distancing and “consider the appropriate role” for testing and workplace contact tracing for workers. 

The guidance said temperature checks and other screening measures for meat and poultry processing workers was optional. 

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Earlier this month, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the AFL-CIO’s petition for a temporary infectious disease standard to protect employees from COVID-19. “OSHA’s decision not to issue an [Emergency Temporary Standard] is entitled to considerable deference,” the court said. 

Biden also said the government should fund the cost of paid sick leave for workers who get sick from the virus. 

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