The year of Covid-19 whistleblowers

by Dakotah Manson, Program Associate

Published on November 20, 2020

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The year of Covid-19 whistleblowers

As 2020 began, Chinese ophthalmologist Dr. Li Wenliang alerted his colleagues in Wuhan of a highly contagious upper respiratory infection. In doing so, he started a chain of events that informed the world of the threat of the virus now known as Covid-19, despite great personal risk due the lack of whistleblower protections in China. Sadly, Dr. Li was criminalized for his bravery and passed away due to the virus in mid-February.

A few months later in the United States, as the pandemic had progressed to a global scale, Navy Captain Brett Crozier blew the whistle on a Covid-19 outbreak on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt forcing the Navy to implement new Covid-19 mitigation policies.

Then in June, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)’s Kansas Director, Jay Brainard, blew the whistle on the TSA’s failure to protect its employees and passengers from the virus. Shortly after, the head of TSA announced new Covid-19 safety precautions.

And around the world, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have stepped forward to expose critical shortages in PPE and dangerous conditions. In the U.S. alone, the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Labor found that the number of Occupational Health and Safety Act whistleblower claims increased by 30% between February to May 2020.

We celebrate all the brave people who have saved a countless number of lives by blowing the whistle in the face of Covid-19, risking their jobs and wellbeing to bring truth to light. But whistleblower laws and protections are far from perfect with many whistleblowers like Dr. Li and Navy Captain Crozier facing retaliation for their disclosures.

That’s why the National Whistleblower Center is working every day to educate whistleblowers about how to safely report fraud and working with our allies and grassroots supporters to win stronger whistleblower protections in the U.S. and around the world. But we have a long way to go.

As the fight against Covid-19 continues, we need whistleblowers more than ever. So, please, join us December 1st for #GivingTuesday and become a part of our ongoing fight against fraud, corruption, and abuse. Together, we can build the whistleblower movement our world needs.

Stand With Whistleblowers

Interested in contributing another way? As you shop for holiday gifts and great deals on Amazon, you can support the National Whistleblower Center. Go to and select NWC as your non-profit of choice. Then every time you shop, just start at that site. It’ll remember your choice.

It only takes a minute – and any amount goes a long way towards ensuring that the brave people who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and corruption have the protections and incentives they deserve.

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