July 1, 2020
Charis Wilson, FOIA Officer, P.O. Box 25287
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
Denver, CO 80225
Subject: Freedom of Information Act Request
Dear Ms. Wilson:
This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As background for this request:
- We submitted a previous FOIA request on April 20, 2020; it was assigned tracking number NPS-2020-00754. We have not received n NPS response to this request.
- We submitted a new FOIA request on June 1, 2020. In your email confirming receipt of this request, you advised it would be consolidated with the previous request under tracking number NPS-2020-00754. We have not received a response to this request.
- This new request submitted today is in addition to, not in place of, the previous requests consolidated under NPS-2020-00754.
In your email confirmation of receipt for our April 20th request, you indicated that “there are currently 3 expedited and 117 normal requests ahead of this request in the processing queue.” In your email confirmation of receipt for our June 1st request, you indicated that “there are currently 3 expedited, 1 simple, and 114 normal requests ahead of this request in the processing queue.” Do I understand correctly that NPS processed just 3 FOIA requests service-wide between April 20 and June 1, 2020? If my understanding is incorrect, please explain.
Because NPS has been unresponsive to previous requests for basic information regarding the number of NPS employees diagnosed with COVID-19, I request the following information under the Freedom of Information Act:
1) The cumulative number of NPS employees with confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of June 30, 2020.
2) A simple list of the parks where those cases occurred as of June 30, 2020.
3) In the event that the information is not available specifically as requested, we request similar information in whatever format is available (e.g., weekly or monthly summary of the number of NPS employee COVID-19 cases).
Note: We will continue to submit new FOIA requests for similar information on a monthly basis through the end of the 2020 calendar year or longer if necessary.
To determine my status with regard to fees, you should know that I am a representative of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition). The Coalition is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to study, educate, speak, and act for the preservation and protection of the National Park System and mission-related programs of the National Park Service.
We are seeking the above information in order to better understand the extent of spread of COVID-19 among NPS employees while many parks remained open or partially open to millions of visitors across the National Park System during the COVID-19 pandemic. And now many parks are reopening, increasing the risk of spread of COVID-19 to NPS employees and local community members from non-local visitors.
I request a waiver of all fees for this request. Disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in my commercial interest. Having such information will enable the Coalition to more effectively communicate and advocate for the protection of the health and safety of NPS employees as millions of people continue to visit the National Park System during the ongoing pandemic.
Thank you for your consideration. Given the limited scope of this request, we would appreciate a timely response.
Philip A. Francis, Jr., Chair
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
David Vela, Acting Director, National Park Service
Charis Wilson, FOIA Officer, National Park Service