By Steve Powell
MARYSVILLE – From working from home to teleconferencing to the next office to working on solo projects, the city is coming up with innovative ideas to deal with the coronavirus.
Chief Administrative Officer Gloria Hirashima said Friday that the city cracked down on meetings because of a scare last week. An employee who had attended a meeting ended up testing negative for the virus. But just the thought of how many people that would have put out of commission helped the city tighten its priorities.
“It really taught us a heavy lesson. This can never happen again,” she said.
Hirashima said a positive diagnosis would have ended up with many people being quarantined, which would have hurt city operations.
All city departments and their 300 workers have discontinued group meetings.
“Communication is much more challenging,” she said, adding they’re not sure how to replace those gatherings in letting workers know what’s going on.
Hirashima said they are strict about the 6-foot social distancing rule. Even internal staff meetings are online. “It’s weird,” she said. “I could be talking to Connie (Mennie, in communications) next door to me, and we’re doing it by computer.”
City office buildings are closed to keep employees and the public safe. All of the buildings were disinfected.
Department heads were asked how they could change services, but still support the public during this important time, Hirashima said.
If possible, employees are being allowed to work from home. Many workers in the legal and community development departments are doing that.
To make sure employees are separated, some are staggering shifts or working alternating days.
“Spread people out more,” she said, adding that if someone gets sick, “We’re not going to lose everybody,” if others have to be quarantined.
“Normal would be wonderful,” she said.
Employees in this department often work in teams, but not in coming weeks. Streets supervisor Jesse Perrault said some big paving projects are being delayed due to COVID-19 concerns. That work requires too many workers in close proximity.
Instead, the city is planning some spring cleaning – and it’s looking to the public for help.
Usually sweepers make it to neighborhoods about every six weeks. Perrault said he wants to double that. But he will need the public to be willing to move their cars – even if just for a few minutes – so sweepers and blowers can do their jobs. Moving trash cans and recycle bins also will help.
He said he knows that is going to be a problem because so many more cars are at home due to a change in workplace, temporary layoff or other reasons.