March 13, 2020: Update from Mike Downs, County Manager

March 13, 2020: Update from Mike Downs, County Manager

This is the first of ongoing communications related to COVID-19 that will go to employees on Fridays. The next countywide communication will come through DirectConnect.

Cabarrus County is preparing employees and facilities to help minimize the local transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

As of March 12, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Cabarrus County’s public health authority, has announced second-round testing to confirm if a local resident who traveled internationally has the virus. This is the first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Cabarrus County.

We are working closely with the CHA and exploring ways to support employees while continuing to deliver excellent service.

Information is rapidly evolving. The County is following official recommendations. We’re proactively modifying our business processes with reasonable and appropriate actions that can help protect susceptible populations through increased social distancing.

Our goals are to keep our community healthy, use resources wisely and support the wellbeing of our employees. Employees will receive job-related updates as decisions are made. Weekly organizational updates will be distributed each Friday through DirectConnect and ongoing information will reside online in a central location.

Here are considerations we’re making to address COVID-19:

    • Employee health and wellbeing
    • Facility processes and updates
    • Travel policy modifications
    • Internal event schedule modifications
    • Public events and messaging
    • Tips to limit transmission
    • Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources

Details of each topic are provided below. Please direct questions to your department head.

Employee health and wellbeing


Facilities:
The County will announce some changes to event and facility schedules. We are not making any full facility closures at this time - most County facilities will continue to operate normal hours. If County facilities close, management will provide employees with detailed information on relevant considerations.

Teamwork is important in times like this. Given the nature of our work to provide essential services, employees may receive temporary reassignments that support other County departments. As we face difficult decisions, we appreciate your understanding and flexibility in making the best use of our collaborative model.

Sick leave: Employees showing symptoms of COVID-19 (or any other communicable disease) are encouraged to stay home. Refer to the Employee Personnel Ordinance to review our sick leave policy. If you believe using sick leave is the best decision, communicate regularly with your supervisor.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice. Medical providers encourage the use of virtual primary care visits when possible. Here are links to virtual and telehealth options from Atrium Health and Cigna (employees should confirm MyCigna sign on information before it’s necessary). Virtual and telehealth options may come with additional fees.

Testing: At this time, COVID-19 testing is not available at the Employee Health and Wellness Clinic. Do not visit the Cabarrus County Employee Health and Wellness Clinic if you believe you’ve been exposed. The CDC recommends if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Remote work: Department heads will determine and notify employees if they qualify to work from remote locations. Note: you must be able to demonstrate the ability to work remotely, including access to internet and technology, if needed. You may not use a personal computer for County business. Leave support technology items (mice, monitors, etc.) at your in-office workstation. IT is working with department heads to evaluate and address technology needs. Contact your supervisor if you have specific questions about remote work.

Dependent care: Communicate dependent care issues you may face. Management will search for solutions that meet your personal needs while allowing you to contribute to service delivery.

County processes and updates

Time clock: We will continue to use the Kronos system. While you can still use the time clock, we’ve suspended finger recognition feature. IAM regularly sanitizes the clocks and has installed hand sanitizer stations at each clock location. Other time clock options are available and vary by role, but may include clocking in from your desk computer or phone, or manual adjustments by your supervisor.

Face-to-face interactions: If your role requires face-to-face interactions with the public, consider options to minimize exposure. Follow department directives, which may include setting appointments, calling individuals who’ve scheduled appointments to see if they’re experiencing symptoms, keeping a six-foot distance between you and the individual, and using phone and virtual options when possible.

When appropriate, ask if the individual is exhibiting symptoms (fever greater than 100.4, cough or shortness of breath). If the answer is yes, direct them to call their primary care provider. Department heads will advise employees on next steps in serving those individuals.

If you are interviewing potential employees, consider phone and virtual first-round interviews.

Use phone or virtual meetings when possible and remember that you can watch Board of Commissioner meetings online at www.cabarruscounty.us/live.

Cleaning: Following federal recommendations, the County will continue its regular cleaning procedures. In general, employees who are not responsible for facility care will not receive cleaning supplies. The exception includes employees who will receive specialized training and supplies for job-specifics tasks.

General guidelines: Follow sensible precautions when using door handles, holding railings and pushing elevator buttons.

Travel policy modifications

Business travel and meetings: Effective immediately and until further notice, the County has suspended all non-essential business travel. Employees must receive approval from their department head and the county manager/deputy county manager prior to essential business travel. Employees should cancel upcoming non-essential travel arrangements, unless the travel takes place June 1 or later. As we near the June 1 date, the County will provide follow-up communication.

Essential business travel is limited to instances where:

  • It is not possible to conduct business without face-to-face interaction or visiting a specific location
  • The destination is not experiencing sustained community transmission of COVID-19

Personal travel: Consider federal travel advisories before planning your next vacation. To mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19, employees will need to share details of planned personal travel with their manager at the time of the request. Managers will carefully review requests to assure they align with current travel and self-quarantine recommendations.

Per Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, employees should not physically return to work for at least 14 days following return to the country if they have:

  • Traveled to a country for which the CDC has issued a Level 1 (or higher) Travel Health Notice
  • Come into contact with someone who has traveled to a Level 1 (or higher) destination
  • Traveled on a cruise ship

View the current list of CDC Level 1 (or higher) locations.

Internal event schedule modifications

The County has canceled non-essential on-site training and events through April 13. This includes CPR and AED training, DD4 Defensive Driving classes, Supervisor Boot Camp, and the annual Health and Wellness Fair. If the event required registration, registrants will receive an email confirming the cancellation.

AIM biometric screenings are essential and will continue as scheduled. If you exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 or other communicable diseases, contact Johanna Ray to reschedule (extension 2885).

Public events and messaging

Beginning with this week’s Senior Health and Wellness Expo, Cabarrus County has canceled events following the NC Department of Health and Human Services recommendation that those over 65 or those with underlying health conditions avoid large gatherings.

Later today, the County will release public information on the cancellation of most events planned for 50 or more people and/or high-risk populations that take place at County facilities through April 13. As we near the April 13 date, the County will provide follow-up communication.

Some programs, including the County’s congregate meal sites, will remain open under special guidance.

Other events will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If you are hosting or attending an event and have questions, contact your supervisor.

Departments are responsible for notifying their respective event contacts of the cancellation. Communications and Outreach is available to assist with messaging, which should remain consistent across all platforms.

Remember to cancel any public notifications, including the County’s event calendar, active calendar and social media events.

Unless you’ve received approval, do not post information on the cancellation of public events until the press release is sent.

Tips to limit transmission

Employees are encouraged to use common-sense precautions at all times (at work, in public or at home) including:

  • Only using masks and gloves if required
  • Washing your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds each time
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are ill
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Using a tissue only once and discarding it after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • Routinely cleaning all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs
  • Following routine disinfection and cleaning practices
  • Taking sick/comp time when appropriate and with supervisor approval

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources

Cabarrus County residents can turn to the CHA for ongoing information related to coronavirus and other public health concerns. CHA will provide updates through its website, www.cabarrushealth.org. You can also call the Health Information Line at 704-920-1213 or email healthinfo@cabarrushealth.org. Follow the CHA on Facebook and Twitter, @CabarrusHealth.

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