No Oak Ridge municipal employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and about half of city staff members are working from home and half are working in the office.
In a response to questions on Wednesday, the City of Oak Ridge said one municipal employee was tested, but it was negative for COVID-19. That employee worked from home until the test results came back, as did anyone who was in contact with that employee, the response said.
The city said the Oak Ridge police and fire departments are temperature-screening employees before they enter the office and go out in the field.
“All other employees have been armed with the facts and symptoms of COVID-19 and have been encouraged to stay home, report any symptoms, and get screened if they are not feeling well,” the city said. “If an employee learns they may have been exposed to the virus, they are sent home to quarantine for 14 days or until the person who may have exposed them has tested negative.”
The city said about half of employees are working from home and half are in the office.
“For example, I share an office with one other person, so this week I’m working Monday, Wednesday, Friday in the office, and he’s at home,” said city spokesperson Lauren Gray. “On Tuesday and Thursday, he will be in the office, and I’ll be at home. Employees are working about 40 hours at home and 40 hours in the office each pay period (two weeks). Some employees are working four, 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.”
Government employees are considered essential employees, and they provide essential services to the community, the city said. In departments like the library, one person per department (usually the department director) is considered essential to keep things operating.
The city said it is constantly reminding the public to practice social distancing and wash their hands with soap and for 20 seconds or more.
In order to help limit exposure to employees, the Oak Ridge Municipal Building as well as several other city facilities have been closed to the public, but departmental services continue. Financial transactions are being handled electronically and by mail. If someone needs to meet an employee in person, they’re encouraged to call the department’s extension directly to work something out. All citizen visits and tours of fire stations and headquarters have been suspended. The main entrance to the police department has been closed, and residents are asked to call the police department at (865) 425-3504 to file police reports. Crime tips can be submitted on the ORPD website. You can find more specific details on each department here: http://www.oakridgetn.gov/content.aspx?article=4878.
Also in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, municipal board and commission meetings have been canceled.
“We are using programs like Zoom and GoToMeeting to conduct any meetings we need to have via video chat,” the city said. “Our last special called city council meeting was held online to limit the number of people in one space. Many employees are using this time to do online training through the library and work on projects that have been put on hold.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
You can contact John Huotari, owner and publisher of Oak Ridge Today, at (865) 951-9692 or [email protected]
Most news stories on Oak Ridge Today are free, brought to you by Oak Ridge Today with help from our advertisers, sponsors, and subscribers. This is a free story. Thank you to our advertisers, sponsors, and subscribers. You can see what we cover here.
Do you appreciate this story or our work in general? If so, please consider a monthly subscription to Oak Ridge Today. See our Subscribe page here. Thank you for reading Oak Ridge Today.
Copyright 2020 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.