I am a junior software developer in a governmental organization that has the ability to give its employees remote access to their workstation so they can work from home, but uses it sparingly and generally reserves it for more senior developers due to concerns over data security. Recently, the COVID-19 epidemic has been officially declared a pandemic, and areas near my city have confirmed multiple cases that are spreading quickly. My workplace seems to be dragging its feet on the issue and making us come to work as usual while many other private organizations have already sent their people home. In essence, they are waiting for the first confirmed case to pop up inside the specific building that we work in before they close things down.
I have relatives at home who are very much at risk from this pandemic due to their age. I cannot in good conscience allow COVID-19 to enter my home and risk my family members' health. As such, I've already made my decision and I have talked to my manager about providing remote access to me and allowing me to work from home, but I was turned down because the office hasn't yet decided to close up and that this decision out of their hands.
I am currently planning to stop coming to the office in order to protect myself and my family. I have consulted with an attorney and I've determined that that puts my employment and my relationship with my manager at risk, because I am in an at-will employment state in the US and technically a pandemic doesn't really protect me from being fired. I don't want that to happen, but I am prepared to accept that outcome. However, is there an alternative solution to this problem that I am not considering?
This is in the US, by the way.
UPDATE: We are now allowed to work from home. I was told that the decision for that would likely be made sometime in the middle of next week, so I started taking my PTO, and then that same day that I took off, we got the temporary policy change from the upper government people the next day. I'm not important enough to have affected that process though since I'm a junior so I guess it was just a happy coincidence. But escalating the request and taking PTO until the decision is made seems to have been the best and most diplomatic option. Thank you!