City manager

City Manager's Messages

News and updates from the City Manager.

View All Posts

Jan 12

COVID-19 Updates

Posted on January 12, 2021 at 10:54 AM by Fred Gaskins

To: All City Employees

I am writing to update you on where our community and region stand with regard to COVID cases and the related operational impacts/implications.

While our community did a great job for a long time, staying under state and regional caseload averages, we are now seeing case counts and positivity rates on the higher ends of the state. As of yesterday, our positivity rate for PCR tests is 25.9% and is one of the highest in the State. Our region is not far behind us, with the Peninsula rate being 21.7%, Chesapeake at 22.8%, Norfolk at 17.5%, Portsmouth at 23.0% and Virginia Beach at 21.8%. Projections suggest we will see these rates increase before they decline. Obviously, this is very concerning.

Last week, I reminded us all of the steps we should be taking to stay safe. Your health and safety are very important to me, so today I am announcing another step we will take to both protect our workforce and our residents who interact with us. As of Wednesday, January 13th, we will require appointments for residents and other customers to enter city facilities. Appointments will ensure that we do not overload our offices at any given time with traffic. Further, with appointments, we can also telework more staff thereby helping to keep the numbers of people in work spaces even lower. The details of how this will work will be conveyed within your departments as the short-term roll-out will be department specific while we deploy a centralized appointment system. Please note that it is my expectation that we schedule customers for appointments as expeditiously as possible.  Also, please note that public meetings, such as Council or other required Board & Commissions, are not subject to this limitation. People are not required to have an appointment to come to open public meetings. 

At this time, I plan to keep the appointment system in place until we see how vaccination plans roll out and when case numbers subside.

As noted last week, one of my highest priorities is working on vaccine roll-out. Our Fire/EMS personnel are already being vaccinated, and we are hoping to move to Police, teachers and other essential front-line staff in the near future. We have been working with the local health district and hospital systems to set up the infrastructure for the City to take the lead on getting you and our school counterparts all vaccinated with the help of our EMS team and School nurses so that we can move faster. We are awaiting official approval for our clinic and for our region to officially enter phase 1B for this to happen. We are aware that other parts of the State are moving into 1B and we are pressing for the same. I hope to be able to give you good news on that front soon.

In the meantime, we will be rolling out an employee survey for you to complete to let us know of your willingness to take the vaccine so we can properly plan. Taking the vaccine is a personal choice, but please note that we cannot offer the special COVID leave to those who are offered a vaccine and decline it. Thus, if you decline the vaccine when offered by the City/Health District, you will be required to sign a declination form indicating that you have chosen not to do so. As we do not want to the Health District to order more vaccine for our workforce than we intend to use, please complete the survey you are given as quickly as possible. 

I know we are all weary of this pandemic, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I look forward to updating you again soon.



You must log in before leaving your comment