CNN, January 8, 2019
Vanessa Yurkevich and Jen Christensen

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With about 41% of the US Food and Drug Administration off the job due to the government shutdown, some agency employees worry about the safety and health of the American public.

Agency operations "continue to the extent permitted by law," according to the FDA website, meaning "activities necessary to address imminent threats to the safety of human life and activities [are] funded by carryover user fee funds."

User fees fluctuate, according to the FDA, meaning more employees could be furloughed the longer the shutdown lasts.

"With the shutdown, surveillance is not effective. They are doing the bare minimum to get by," said Geneve Parks, a chemist who tests pharmaceuticals at an FDA lab in Detroit. She says she loves her work but is furloughed along with about half of the 34 to 40 people who work in her lab. Now, she estimates that there are only five people in the chemistry division.

"It's terrifying. What if there's an outbreak?" Parks asked. "What would the agency do if something happened and they don't have the staff to handle it?" [...]

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