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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – While only about 40% of the workforce has returned to the office 100% of the rodent force is reporting every day for duty.

The pest control industry is hopping right now as it tries to wrestle the COVID vacated spaces back from the four-footed furry pest.

Workers returning to their offices after four or five months working at home are finding the evidence of mice and rats.

“Rather than the occasional sighting,” says Chad Gore, Ph.D. of Ehrlich Pest control, “They might be seeing a lot more of these sighting or things kind of walking or crawling around.”

The reason he says is simple, “They don’t have the disturbance of people they perceive as predators if they don’t have that in their way they are going to come out of the places they are using for hiding in and feel more comfortable in other areas.”

And Gore says there’s plenty in the vacated workspaces to attract them.

“You certainly have things that are nesting materials so a lot of paper cardboard, things as that nature. And that is as attractive to rodents as food sources.”

Oh but there’s plenty of food as well.

Gore says offices were abandoned without planning when the pandemic hit so stashes of food were left behind without a thought. No one thought they would be gone this long. And Gore says, “In a desk, people might leave their bag of chips or candy bars and to a rodent that bag or wrapper is no barrier to the smell and eventually taste of that piece of food.”

And it’s not just rodents.

“We do see similar things with other things like cockroaches,” says Gore. “Where you have a small population. And that area being left alone like in a restaurant for example, or office buildings, when it comes to American cockroaches you know they can blow up pretty quick.”

So the battle is on to regain control of in the name of humanhood.

WATCH: Pest Problems Become An Issue In Buildings Left Behind During COVID-19 Shutdowns

Dr. Gore says the first thing is to get control of the nesting havens in the paperwork clutter.

Then he says, “In that office setting we have to make sure we are eliminating all that food they are attracted to or at the very least we’re putting it into rodent-proof containers, really thick sturdy plastic containers.”

Next, he says you have to determine how they are getting in and seal up the pathway. Traps alone won’t do it.

“Catching one mouse is certainly winning a battle but not the war, so you need to be diligent and continue your efforts until you catch none.”

And the same approaches will work with cockroaches.

“We need to make sure we’re putting out the proper control measures and we need to monitor them during the control period but also afterward to make sure we’ve eliminated the pest population as a whole.”

One factor to remember with all the pest he says is they are smarter than you think. If they find and identify a threat they will go around it and you could wind up just moving the problem from one place to another.

With many offices still off-limits to employees its up to the supervisors, maintenance staff, or owners of the building to deal with the issues.

Pittsburgh is far from alone in this battle; Boston, New York, and Philly are among the many cities experiencing the same issues.

But against all this creepiness there is one glimmer of good news: Dr. Gore says they are seeing a decline in the number of problems with Bed Bugs because people are not traveling.

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Tags: pittsburgh news coronavirus coronavirus in pittsburgh covid 19 erlich local tv pittsburgh news rodents pittsburgh news

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Gottlieb says HHS move to centralize control over agencies "makes no sense"

Washington — Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), criticized a new policy by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) giving only the secretary the authority to sign off on new rules, saying the timing "makes no sense" and risks creating the perception that the agency he helmed is being bullied.

"I think that this is the wrong move at the wrong time," Gottlieb said Sunday on "Face the Nation. "At a time that they should be reaffirming the independence and the integrity of these agency, to do this now just makes no sense."

  • Transcript: Dr. Scott Gottlieb on "Face the Nation"

The New York Times reported on Saturday that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar signed a new order prohibiting the nation's top health agencies from signing any new rules, including those affecting medical products and vaccines. 

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According to the September 15 memo, which CBS News obtained, such power "is reserved to the Secretary" going forward.

"Any prior delegation of rulemaking authority, including the authority to sign or issue a rule or a proposed rule, is rescinded," the memo signed by Azar and sent to the heads of operating and staff divisions states. 

Gottlieb said Sunday he opposed the policy change while working for the Trump administration. Just before leaving the FDA, Gottlieb himself recodified an Obama-era tobacco regulation because he was concerned that HHS, which oversees the FDA, would centralize the rule-making authority and question its legitimacy.

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"The timing of this is just really poor right now because it's going to distract the agency and frankly create headlines that could lead to the perception that the agency is being bullied," he said.

The revelations about the new memo are likely to stoke concerns about the independence of health agencies like the FDA, which will oversee approval of a coronavirus vaccine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also a division of HHS. In several instances, the actions of political appointees have elevated fears of political interference in the science-based decision-making process.

Gottlieb has repeatedly defended the scientists at the FDA and said they will make decisions, including on approval of a coronavirus vaccine, based solely on the science. But he warned the policy change approved by Azar creates "an implication or at least a specter that the independence of that agency is being eroded or influenced."

"It's a distraction to FDA at a time when they should be focused on the COVID response," he said. "The timing of this makes no sense. I don't believe in the underlying basis of what they did."

Gottlieb added that the new policy "sends exactly the wrong message at a time that we want to reaffirm the independence of these agencies."

While the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise and the death toll in the U.S. is nearing 200,000, President Trump has shifted his focus to development and distribution of a vaccine, and has repeatedly claimed one would be ready by the election. Phase 3 trials are underway for several coronavirus vaccine candidates.

But Mr. Trump's claims about a vaccine put him on a crash course last week with CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, who told the Senate a coronavirus vaccine would not be widely available until mid-2021.

Mr. Trump claimed Redfield "made a mistake" and was "confused."

But Gottlieb echoed Redfield's timeline and said he doesn't believe a vaccine will be licensed for general use until the second or third quarter of 2021.

There could, however, be a vaccine that receives an emergency use authorization from the FDA that is administered to select groups, he said.

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