COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates (Post Date: 3/13/20, updated 4/13/20)
What is the City Doing to Protect Staff During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency?
In a crisis such as this, community concerns, questions, and the need for information increases. To that end, communications with our community members and servicing the public become that much more critical. We want to share with you the measures we have taken, as a City, to ensure that we can still offer essential City services to our community, while protecting our staff.
This pandemic is unprecedented, and the City is competing for resources not just with other public agencies in Ventura County, but from across the Country, and including other governmental agencies and private employers. We are not alone in this struggle. Surveys from other cities show the same challenges and those cities have deployed staff similarly to the City of Camarillo in order to provide services based on the demands of their communities. City of Camarillo leaders, managers, and staff have responded to this crisis in an agile process which requires staff to meet frequently to assess current conditions which change very quickly, collaborate on necessary actions and implement actions. Staff is working hard and tirelessly to protect, support, and meet the demands of our community, and doing it in a responsible and safe manner.
City Hall staff have been released in a systematic way as COVID-19 has progressed
City Management was proactive and took immediate action prior to the Governor’s Stay-At-Home-Order (March 19) and the VC Health Officer’s Stay-Well-At-Home Order (March 20) by preparing for business continuity and identifying primary critical and non-critical functions. On March 19, City Hall closed to the public and limited contact to a “by appointment only” basis. Appointments are made only for services that require in-person services where exceptions to timeframe deadlines have not been made by the governing agency, or they are considered an Essential Service by Federal, State, or local government; or where there is consideration to the safety, health and welfare, and/or fiduciary requirements and obligations by the person or the City. Significant protective measures and health and safety protocols are required and provided to employees.
Some City Staff Are Working Remotely
The City’s IT division staff have been working diligently to provide the necessary hardware and software to employees, allowing staff to work from home at a time when the technology needs have increased suddenly and significantly by those in the private and public sector. Initially 11 of the 85 employees at City Hall were sent home to work remotely or were reassigned to a work area to allow for proper distancing as recommended by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). In addition to that, some employees were and continue to be on voluntary leave for various personal reasons including for the care of their children due to the closure of schools and day care centers. This does not account for employees whose schedules have been flexed so they can work when others are not present and moreover, some employees have been assigned on staggered schedules furthering the distancing between employees.
During the week of March 30, an additional 23 employees have been assigned to work from home, with a core group of staff remaining to provide continuity of business, and to provide the support that our community requires, even in, and especially in this time of crisis. Some additional employees continue to be off for personal reasons, and additional employees are expected to be off to care for their children. Approximately half of City Hall employees will be out by April 3, and others continue to work on a flexible or staggered schedule. Unfortunately, in some cases, the nature of the business does not allow for employees to work from home. However, employees are not refused their request not to report to work, provided the nature of their position is not significantly critical to the operation and/or can be performed by backup. We have not had that situation.
While there is reduced staff working at City Hall as of April 13, 2020, City services continue to be available online and over the phone, and some services are available by appointment only. For information on how to access City services during the temporary City Hall closure, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions resource on the City's COVID-19 webpage.
Additional Safety Precautions & Measures Have Been Implemented
Staff is provided with PPEs and sanitizing supplies for their work areas. Custodial services sanitize City Hall, including frequently used areas every evening and mid-afternoon. Employees are frequently reminded to exercise regular safe health practices including proper social distancing and not coming to work if they are sick or have been around a sick family member. Employees are encouraged to limit their mobility around City Hall and Human Resource staff are aware of how to act promptly to any concerns of sick employees.