As first responders face a growing shortage of protective gear, social workers across sprawling Los Angeles County have continued to make visits to the homes of children and families in the child welfare system — at times without masks or gloves, according to social workers with the county’s Department of Children and Family Services.

Social worker David Green, an officer with Service Employees International Union Local 721 told The Chronicle of Social Change that there hasn’t been enough protective gear for social workers, adding fear of infection and uncertainty to an already high-stress line of work.

“I wish all social workers would have masks,” Green said. “But that’s not the case right now.” Green said emergency response social workers who make the initial abuse and neglect investigations are the first to get masks when they’re available during the outbreak. Otherwise, “offices are communicating with each other to make sure everyone has some.”

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