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Jan 06

City Manager's Message Jan. 6: COVID-19 update and safety measures

Posted on January 6, 2021 at 5:18 PM by Don Mann

Happy New Year!  I sincerely hope that your resilience and perseverance over the past year were rewarded with well-deserved relaxation over the holiday.
 
While most of us were eager to leave behind the challenges of 2020, the reality is that  COVID-19 continues to be a major concern in 2021.  Just four weeks ago, my message to you cautioned of an uptick in cases following the Thanksgiving holiday.  At that time, our positivity rate was 9.2%. Unfortunately, the subsequent December/January post-holiday increase more than doubled the local rate of infection.  For the past few weeks, Hampton's positivity rate has been hovering around 20%. This means that 1 in every 5 Hampton resident who gets tested is positive for the virus — important information for each of us to ponder regarding our own risk of exposure.
 
The Virginia Department of Health warns that we remain in a period of substantial community spread. The threats to us, our loved ones, and our hospital systems are increasing. Though we are weary, the consistent use of the following precautions remains absolutely critical to protect ourselves and one another:
 
TELEWORK — I continue to support the maximum the use of teleworking, alternative scheduling and other options to reduce the number of people in the workplace wherever practicable. I truly appreciate that departments have been strategic and creative in ensuring the continued delivery of vital services to our residents.

FACE COVERINGS — Because this virus is spread primarily by respiratory droplets, masks continue to be the most effective way to prevent the spread.  As a reminder, face coverings should fully cover the nose and mouth. It is expected that CDC-recommended masks will be worn any time you are in contact with co-workers or the public.  (The CDC guide to face coverings can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html.)

HAND WASHING — Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is critical in preventing the virus from entering your body or being passed to others.  Wash hands after being in public places or touching shared surfaces and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.  If you are unable to wash with soap, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

SOCIAL DISTANCING —  A mask is not a substitute for social distancing. Masks should be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart, especially when indoors around people who don’t live in your household. 

SAFETY PROTOCOLS — Please make use of all safeguards (such as physical barriers and PPE) placed in your workplace for your protection.  Adhere to any safety protocols established by the city or your department to include taking your temperature, cleaning surfaces, etc.  Contact your supervisor before reporting to work if you are experiencing any signs of illness or if you may have been exposed to someone with COVID.
 
Vaccinations provide hope for an end to this pandemic. At his news conference earlier today, Governor Northam outlined the Commonwealth’s plans for vaccine distribution. I want you to be aware that the City is working very closely with the Virginia Department of Health/Hampton Health District to make plans for the prompt and efficient vaccination of our workforce. We have offered resources to support the more rapid deployment of vaccines, and await acceptance of our offer. 
 
As widely reported by the media, there are not yet enough doses of vaccine available for everyone so distribution has been prioritized by risk and will occur in multiple phases.   Our Fire/Emergency Medical Services personnel who are at the highest risk due to direct patient contact have already begun to receive their first dose of vaccine.  Other essential positions deemed at high risk for exposure will be included in the next phase.  Your safety and well-being are my priority and I want to reassure you that the City is eager to offer you the opportunity to be vaccinated as soon as you are eligible.  Your patience is greatly appreciated and I will continue to provide updates as they become available. 
 
As you await your turn to be vaccinated, please make it your New Year’s resolution to stay vigilant to protect yourself and those around you. Together we can make 2021 a safer and healthier year!

— Mary

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