To: All City Employees
From: Joe Schember, Mayor
Subject: COVID-19 Guidelines
Date: March 13, 2020
Good Afternoon, Fellow City Employees.
As of this afternoon, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 (CoronaVirus Disease 2019) in Erie County, PA. However, as it spreads across the U.S., we have been meeting to develop a proactive plan for delaying the spread to Erie County. Our primary concern is for the safety of our employees, their families, and all residents.
As a result, we are putting in place the following preventative measures to mitigate the potential for community-wide spread of the virus.
Non-Essential, Work Related Travel: Effective immediately, we are banning all non-essential, work-related travel. Planned travel to conferences, trainings or non-essential meetings outside of the County should be cancelled or rescheduled for a later date, if possible. For meetings planned within Erie County, employees should use due diligence to hold those meetings remotely via conference call.
Personal Travel: Effective on Monday, March 23, we are restricting personal travel by airplane, train, or cruise ship to hotspots in the United States as well as travel to Level 2 and 3 countries. For an up-to-date list of high risk destinations, refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html for information and updates.
§ If you are considering traveling within the United States, the CDC provides excellent guidance on things to consider before traveling at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html.
§ If you decide to proceed with your travel plans anyway, you must self-report to Connie Cook by email or telephone.
§ In addition, following CDC guidelines, upon your return, you must self-quarantine for 14 days. If you have the ability to do so, you can work from home. If your position does not allow you to do that, then you will have to use sick time.
§ If you do not have enough sick time, then we will enable your balance to go negative, and you will have to pay it back when you accumulate days in 2021.
We will reassess this ban April 20, 2020 and decide whether to modify the travel restrictions.
Develop a Contingency Plan
In the event that we have an outbreak of COVID-19 in Erie, we have asked each department to develop a plan, indicating which employees could work from home given type of work and IT capabilities. Administration will be reviewing those plans next week so they will be in place in the event of an outbreak.
We ask all employees to use discretion in canceling or convening all non-essential meetings using alternative methods. Tools such as Skype, Zoom, or conference call lines can be used in place of essential in-person meetings.
If for some reason, the meeting must be in-person, we ask that you keep a distance of six feet. Consider the necessity of meetings based on operational needs, legal obligations, and/or the regulatory functions of your department.
Under the direction of the CDC, a department director may cancel a community meeting, event, or program for the safety of the public. Things to consider, include:
§ Can the meeting be rescheduled? If so, reschedule it.
§ Will the meeting draw high-risk populations (those over age 60; people with underlying conditions such as heart disease, COPD, lung disease, or diabetes; people with weakened immune systems; women who are pregnant)? If yes, it should be canceled or postponed.
§ If the meeting must take place, encourage those who are sick, not to attend, and work to provide alternative means of participation via social media, phone, or videoconference.
Authority, Board, and Commission Meetings
We will be asking all Authorities, Boards, and Commissions to transition from public meetings with in-person attendance to teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or online streaming, enabling comments, questions, and engagement with the community.
All City Authorities, Boards, and Commissions are authorized to cancel or delay public meetings, until interactive technology can be arranged.
Discourage the public from entering City Hall
In order to keep everyone safe, at this time, we will also be encouraging the public to utilize City Hall services remotely for non-essential reasons. We will:
§ Communicate online payment services or ask residents to mail in payments
§ Encourage people to watch public meetings on TV or online
§ Direct residents to call departments in advance to discuss issues they may have and determine if an in-person meeting is needed.
First Responder Protocol
As a first responder, if you come in contact with an individual who has any of the symptoms outlined below, put a mask on the individual and also wear a mask and gloves yourself. Once you are done taking care of the individual, throw away the mask and gloves and proceed with appropriate handwashing and wiping down of surfaces with a disinfecting wipe.
In light of the Governor’s declaration to close all schools for the next two weeks, we recognize that employees may need to take time off. There will be no disciplinary action. As explained above, if you run out of vacation, personal, or sick days, we will allow your balance to go negative until next year’s days accumulate.
Symptoms to look for include:
If you have a:
1. Fever over 100° F
3. Shortness of breath
And, if you have recently traveled to a hotspot, been on an airplane or a cruise, or been exposed to someone who has, you may have been exposed to the virus.
If you, or someone you know, has these symptoms, call the emergency room to notify them that you are coming in. They will meet you at your car, put a mask on you, and escort you through the emergency room to a negative airflow room so that no one else is infected. The last thing we want is for anyone to walk into a crowded doctor’s office or emergency room and infect the patients, doctors, nurses, and staff.
Standard Disease Prevention Protocols
We ask all employees to:
1. If you are sick or have a fever, stay home.
2. Frequently (20 times a day) wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds.
3. Refrain from shaking hands and hugging.
4. Use hand sanitizer regularly, after making contact with others or touching surfaces, when hand washing is not available.
5. Keep hands away from face – Refrain from touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
6. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue to cough or sneeze and discard in lined trash can.
7. Wipe/disinfect surfaces regularly – door knobs, hand rails, doors, sinks, desk tops, steering wheels, phones, keyboards, tablets, etc.
8. Practice “desocialization”. The Governor has directed events with 250+ attendees to be canceled or postponed. If you are considering attending an event with lower attendance, please consider the added risk of doing so. It is better to be safe than sorry right now. There is a lot we do not know about this strain of the coronavirus, but it is clear that it is spreading rapidly.
9. We will be asking the cleaning crew to decontaminate public spaces each evening.
We appreciate your diligence in trying to slow the spread of this virus. Please be aware that things are changing rapidly. We will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as necessary. Our primary focus is your safety and the safety of our residents, especially those who are at the highest risk. We will be open, honest, and transparent as always. Thank you. Stay safe and healthy.