“In an unprecedented move, the department has authorized departure from post for all employees abroad who are considered to be especially medically vulnerable to the consequences of COVID-19. To date, we’ve also granted ordered departure and authorized voluntary departure to 17 posts and will continue to assess the need to grant more as time progresses. “
QUESTION: [… ] And then secondly, I’m sure you’ve seen these reports that there are numerous embassies, or at least several embassies, where people are basically clamoring for order departure status, and that they are being discouraged from that. Can you address that?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Oh, no. All help is appreciated. On the second part of your question, Matt, so our embassies overseas have their emergency teams meet regularly to discuss the situation at post, and they have a process and procedure in place where they can really evaluate the transportation system, the healthcare system, and not just the status of COVID in the country. And when they reach a certain point where they feel like, okay, maybe time to request authorized ordered departure, they submit a request to the undersecretary of management, and those are coming in regularly, and the undersecretary reviews them and then makes decisions on what to approve. At this point, I think one of the biggest issues is the travel restrictions that countries are instituting around the world.
MODERATOR ONE: If I could just add on to that, those decisions are made against a robust set of criteria and decisions made based to – based on a consistent set of principles, all which are geared towards maximizing the safety for our employees.
QUESTION: And do you have numbers on authorized departures and ordered departures? How many people have taken you up on it so far?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We’ll have to take that question and get back to you. I don’t have those numbers at my fingertips. I apologize.