Staying safer as COVID-19 infection rates increase
Nationally and locally our Public Health agencies are reporting an increase in COVID-19 infection rates in communities. This escalation in infections is also reflected in our work community, with increasing numbers of employees testing positive for COVID-19 or reporting significant exposure to those who have tested positive. Temporary statewide restrictions announced by the Governor are in place to help reduce the rate of infections.
The County continues to review workplace exposures where employees report that they have tested positive for COVID-19. County staff conduct workplace contract tracing on reported cases and notify co-workers who may have had close contact with an infected person at work, which would include those who been within six feet of a person with confirmed COVID-19 for about 15 minutes (consecutively or combined over a 24-hour period).
With regard to identifying co-workers who may have had COVID-19 exposures, state and federal laws protect the privacy of personal health information. We limit the access and amount of information shared to only what is operationally needed and don’t divulge personally identifying information generally. In some cases, the absence of a specific employee combined with notification to close workplace contacts may reveal the identity of a confirmed or suspected case.
While we are taking appropriate actions and providing notice to co-workers who may have been exposed, we are careful to avoid identifying individuals where possible.
Upcoming holidays – Protecting yourselves and others
Unfortunately, it is common now to hear about people that may be positive or who have been exposed to COVID-19. We all have to assume there is a risk of exposure in any public spaces and follow appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hygiene, and social distancing measures at work or in other spaces, especially masking requirements.
Testing facilities currently have limited capacity and reserving that capacity is important for reducing infection rates. Employees should seek testing if they are symptomatic or have had a significant exposure. Employees should not seek testing at this time if they do not have a current risk in order to preserve testing resources.
County workers are encouraged to follow state and national guidelines to keep themselves, loved ones, and our community safer by avoiding holiday gatherings and other public spaces and events.
First responders and employees delivering in-person services continue to do extraordinary work. Teleworkers have embraced new technology and remote service delivery, helping to limit the number of people in County facilities and on roads and transit. Maintaining our vigilance against the virus remains critical to slowing its spread.
Information for employees about COVID-19 and the workplace is available here. Guidance and restrictions on holiday events and public gatherings is available here. Visit Public Health’s COVID-19 website for tips to stay healthy and other up-to-date information.
Let’s all work together to reduce the impact of this virus on friends, family, healthcare, and other emergency workers, and on our workplace community. Stay home, stay safe.