Steve Inskeep, NYC, NPR discussed on Morning Edition

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NYC dot org and if you've done so already thank you it's morning edition from NPR news I'm Steve Inskeep and I'm no well king good morning coal miners have been deemed essential workers during the pandemic but they're also uniquely at risk and advocates say they need to be protected here is Sydney bowls of W. M. M. T. and the Ohio valley resource coal miners start their shifts getting changed in closely packed rooms they ride rail cars to their worksite shoulder to shoulder sometimes for more than an hour and once they're underground ventilation designed to tamp down coldest circulates air through the mine there's no possible way to stay six foot apart in the minds at all the Stevens mind call for eleven years in Kentucky before he left the industry in part because of concerns for worker safety he doesn't trust coal companies to keep workers safe you can be almost section with fourteen million one guy gets sick all fourteen of them guys is gonna get sick at one point time with the same stuff but the other guy health concerns for both current and retired miners Dr Brandon Crum is a radiologist in Pikeville Kentucky who identifies miners who have black lung disease a progressive and deadly condition he says even minors who don't have a black lung diagnosis can have reduced lung function after years or even decades underground even though we know there are high Rios being able to show that and documented and to follow it is going to be very difficult I think com the started calling patients one by one to make sure they have protective equipment that's the only way that I know to do it so we're starting with the worst and working our way back to individually call these guys and if they need mast they can come in while supplies last the federal mine safety and health administration or ensure it says it encourages coal mine operators to take health precautions some mines have closed voluntarily and one mine operator told me he started providing hand sanitizer to his man but I'm sure has not issued specific policies to keep mine workers safe any precautions mine operators want to take our voluntary that's not good enough says Jermaine Assistant Secretary for M. Shah under the Obama administration with the government declares and national emergency and tells those that are considered essential workers go to work to make sure the economy continues to operate but we're really not going to make sure you're protected the way that you should be S. wall call miners have tested positive for coke at nineteen and at least two Alabama coal mines and one in Pennsylvania but then she says it doesn't have a comprehensive data on how many miners have tested positive for clothing nineteen they're not keeping track and coal states like West Virginia Kentucky and Wyoming are not providing numbers either John you're right is with the energy and environment cabinet in Kentucky you're going to stay on the coal companies are not required to notify the cabinet of any positive coping nineteen track and we do not know of any inspectors or miners who have gotten you know Bobby Stevens the former coal miner we heard from earlier said he's worried for minors who may have black lung disease and not know it or no they have the disease and work anyway but then guys probably got the same mentality is that they've got a family we gotta go for seizing extra pressure during the pandemic as demand for energy collapses many minds have laid off workers or even shut down for NPR.

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