COVID-19 (Coronavirus) FAQs for Employees
Contact information and resources:
- For general HR questions and guidance, staff members should contact their HR generalist.
- For questions regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act, the department should contact their Payroll and Transactions contact.
- For guidance to employees for exposure to presumptive or confirmed COVID-19 - view the help guide.
- For questions involving collective bargaining agreement terms, managers or supervisors should contact Alison Kelly.
- If you have questions not addressed here and you are not able to obtain guidance from your manager or supervisor, contact Ann Feaman or Sandi Blaeser.
- For general COVID-19 questions, visit the Coronavirus Disease 2019 page.
- Check RamseyNet for the county's cloth face mask policy and Ramsey News for updates.
See below for answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19/coronavirus.
Who is getting a vaccine?
The vaccine is not yet available to the general public. Saint Paul-Ramsey County Public Health is distributing the vaccine in alignment with the guidance from the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. It is currently an employment-based model, meaning in most cases, the job you do determines your access to vaccine. Saint Paul-Ramsey County Public Health’s ultimate responsibility is supporting access to vaccines for individuals who do not have insurance or a medical home.
Where do I as an employee fall in the distribution plan?
Vaccines are prioritized for groups of employees based on occupational risk, in categories starting with Phase 1a. We are not currently all the way through Phase 1a.
Phase 1a includes health care workers, first responders with emergency medical credentialing and residents of long-term care facilities, including:
- Those individuals providing health care, especially in congregate care facilities or those providing care or services to individuals in 24/7 congregate care facilities.
- Those individuals working as COVID-19 vaccinators and testers, as well as people working in home health care, emergency shelters, public health clinics, mental/behavioral health settings, correctional settings and group homes.
Phase 1b includes essential workers. Saint Paul-Ramsey County Public Health is prioritizing essential workers using the following considerations: (Please note that due to limited vaccine supply, not all 1b can be done the moment 1b becomes eligible.)
- Those individuals who interact with members of the public or higher risk populations and are unable to always take precautions to socially distance because of their job or transport clients because of their jobs.
- Those individuals visiting clients in their homes or outside of the office setting because of their job.
- Those individuals who are interacting with members of the public in face-to-face settings and are unable to maintain social distancing or do not have barriers like plexiglass between them.
- Those individuals who are working indoors or where necessary sharing vehicles with other employees in close proximity.
- Individuals who are working outdoors, but who may interact with members of the public face-to-face.
Individuals who cannot work from home but can maintain proper social distancing protocols and masking will be prioritized after the above individuals.
What groups of employees have already been offered an opportunity to receive their shots?
Public Health vaccinators, community vaccinator staff, Correctional Health nurses, Public Health nurses, Sheriff sworn staff (with emergency medical credentials), Care Center staff, Lake Owasso staff, health care associated with Medical Examiner’s Office, shelter system staff, detox staff, correctional officers, 911 dispatchers and some probation officers.
How will I know when it’s my turn?
We are asking employees to be patient. Human Resources is working with Public Health to identify groups of employees in the categories above. When the vaccine becomes available and scheduling allows, your supervisor or department head will notify you that the vaccine will be available, the location of the vaccine clinic and how to sign up.
Can I use work time to attend vaccination clinics offered by the county?
Similar to the flu clinics, Ramsey County employees may use their work time to attend vaccination clinics offered by the county at their worksites or work locations. Ramsey County employees may also use sick leave during normal work hours to receive a vaccine from their own providers or other clinics (not offered by Ramsey County).
Can I use PEPEL leave if I have side effects from getting the vaccine?
Ramsey County employees may use PEPEL leave if they have remaining PEPEL leave (county paid pandemic leave) or sick leave if they experience side effects from the vaccine.
Do I have to get the vaccine?
No. Getting a vaccine is a personal choice. The choice to receive or forgo the vaccine does not impact your employment with Ramsey County. Please talk to your health care provider if you have concerns. The FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Choosing to get a vaccine will ultimately save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about the vaccine from the COVID-19 Employee Information Session.
I think I should have been offered the shot before others. How do I know Public Health and Human Resources are being fair?
We are doing the best we can to be fair and equitable with a very limited supply of vaccine. The priority order established in Phases 1a and 1b listed above is determined by the risk of exposure, as determined by the Minnesota Department of Health. If you feel you have been placed in the wrong group based on your current job assignment, please talk to your supervisor, who will talk with Human Resources.
My co-worker was called to come get a vaccine out of the blue, why? Is there a waitlist I can be a part of?
Public Health has established a 1b waitlist to ensure use of doses near expiration. Staff approved as 1b will be added to the waitlist over time. Staff on the waitlist must be able to respond within 30 minutes of being contacted and will only be contacted three times before their name is removed from the waitlist. The order of the waitlist is determined by prioritization listed above.
Additionally, once a vial is punctured, the vaccines are only good for six hours! That means no shot can be wasted. If someone does not show up to get their vaccine, or there are any leftover shots, Public Health will contact others on the list to come get a vaccine. If you get a call at the end of a clinic to obtain a vaccine, do not bring another co-worker, family member or friend hoping that they will also be granted a vaccine. They will be turned away.
Will my health clinic be providing vaccinations?
Eventually. Some clinics and pharmacies have vaccine supply and are vaccinating adults 65 years and older. If you are a HealthPartners member, you can find more information on the Health Partners COVID-19 page. You can also check out MDH’s vaccine locator webpage.
Buildings and workplace
What should departments be doing to prepare their workspace for the return of employees?
As of May 13, with the announcement of the Governor’s Stay Safe Minnesota order, Ramsey County is continuing to promote employees working from home wherever possible. There is no intent for employees in any large numbers to return to the office for the foreseeable future. No workspace modifications (i.e. furniture configurations, plexiglass shields, etc.) should be undertaken at this time. As specific department functions are to return to an office setting, as approved by the County Manager through service redesigns, social distancing will be the primary focus within the workspace. If social distancing cannot be achieved, any workspace modifications will be determined through Property Management and Public Health.
What is being done to promote social distancing in buildings and workspaces that are open to the public?
Signage promoting social distancing has been deployed and will be maintained. Social distancing floor decals will be deployed in the public and common areas of buildings with public access. As interior lobbies are approved for public access, Property Management will install floor decals in these areas as well.
Can employees drop in the office as needed?
On occasion, based on a staggered schedule, departments may allow employees to drop in to the office to complete work not possible at home. Employees should practice social distancing and be mindful that the department work areas/surfaces are not cleaned and disinfected by the custodial staff other than within breakrooms. Frequent hand washing or use of hand sanitizer is recommended.
Can employees take home office furniture such as desks and chairs?
No, employees are not allowed to take home office furniture.
Can an employee purchase some home office furniture and seek county reimbursement?
No, there will be no reimbursement for home office furniture.
Would it be better if we had more air flow or more fresh air in our buildings to prevent COVID-19?
In accordance with CDC guidelines, we have confirmed that our ventilation systems are operating properly and verified that filtration in use is in accordance with the design specifications. We have increased the total air circulation and the amount of outdoor air as much as possible without affecting personal comfort (i.e. drafts, humidity) and creating negative building pressure which causes issues with the operation of exterior doors and elevators. We have extended the hours of operation of the systems before and after the normal occupied hours of the buildings.
Should we have HEPA air filtration units in our buildings?
Implementing these or other types of engineering controls is recommended for areas with high and very high exposure risk such as those encountered in healthcare facilities where there is a high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19. We continue to evaluate the use of our buildings and the systems in place. For most facilities, these engineering controls are not necessary, not beneficial and not possible due to the design of the building systems. Whole building HEPA air filtration is not possible with existing county building systems and is typically reserved for use in healthcare facilities. Other techniques continue to be evaluated for applicability.
Paid Extraordinary Pandemic Event Leave (PEPEL)
What is PEPEL?
Paid Extraordinary Pandemic Event Leave, or PEPEL for short, is a paid leave benefit available to all employees (including represented and unrepresented, temps, intermittents, student workers and interns) of up to 80 hours that may be requested to be used in the event an employee must be absent due to a COVID-19 health-related reason, including school and child care closures related to COVID-19.
PEPEL is one part of an agreement/policy created to help lessen the impact of COVID-19 on employees. The other pieces of the policy/agreement are:
- After using all PEPEL hours, employees may use their accrued vacation, sick and comp time, as is appropriate for the circumstance.
- After sick, vacation or comp balances are used, employees may receive an advance of up to 80 total hours of sick and/or vacation hours.
Why did PEPEL get created?
PEPEL was created as part of a strategic effort to keep providing services in Ramsey County while keeping our residents and employees safe. The services provided by local government are essential functions, and as such, Ramsey County employees are expected to work as required by their departmental service delivery models, unless there is a COVID-19 health-related reason they are unable to work.
Should I use PEPEL strategically?
Yes. First, if you are able to work, do that.
- Remote working options have been maximized; talk to your supervisor about remote work if you haven’t yet.
- Consider that low-risk work areas (those with little to no public facing duties), can allow for extra precautions to keep even those at greater risk safe while they continue to work.
- If you are working either remotely or on-site, and your ability to work is otherwise not affected by COVID-19, you will not need PEPEL.
- If your ability to work either remotely or on-site is affected by COVID-19, you may use your PEPEL hours.
- Use only the PEPEL hours that are necessary – this pandemic will be present beyond the end of the Governor’s order to “stay at home” on April 10, 2020.
- Therefore, use PEPEL hours only for the period of time you are unable to perform work during the following situations:
- Because you are caring for your children who are unable to attend school or daycare due to COVID-19-related closure of the facility.
- Because you must isolate or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.
- Because you are ill with COVID-19.
- Because you are caring for an individual in your household who has COVID-19.
- Because you or another person in your household is considered “high risk” by the CDC.
- Over 60.
- Existence of an underlying health condition like heart or lung disease, diabetes or cancer.
- Weakened immune system.
- You may combine PEPEL hours with regular hours worked to extend your 80 hours of PEPEL leave beyond one pay period, provided you are able to work.
Do I have to use PEPEL hours or other benefits?
No. You are encouraged to work, remotely if possible, and if unable to work remotely and otherwise unaffected by COVID-19, you may work consistent with your service delivery model.
What happens when PEPEL hours are exhausted?
If you use all your PEPEL hours (or don’t experience a qualifying circumstance for PEPEL or choose not to use PEPEL hours), you may use sick and/or vacation leave (comp time, floating holiday, holiday reserve) as is appropriate to the situation.
If you use all your accrued leave, you may request to advance up to a total of 80 hours of sick and/or vacation leave, as is appropriate to the situation.
What medical documentation will be required when using PEPEL, sick or vacation accrued leave/advances?
It depends on what you use it for; we want to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system by asking for doctor notes. If there is a reason to verify a high-risk status or reason for use of leaves, or if FMLA is being utilized, you may be required to do so pursuant to current contract language and processes.
What situations are not COVID-19 related?
Any other situation for which you would normally use sick or vacation leave – such as common cold, doctor/dentist appointment, vacation, etc.
I used PEPEL hours because I have a high-risk person living in my household, but now I want to come back to work, is that OK?
This enhanced benefit plan was developed based on the Ramsey County values of investing in people, serving with integrity, valuing community, advancing equity and empowering leadership at all levels. Our commitments to our residents and our employees are guided by these values. All that can be done to keep you safe at work will be done. We encourage employees to consider these values in their decision-making and exercise good judgement and use PEPEL strategically.
How does an employee use PEPEL?
Employees must request approval from their supervisor to use PEPEL or any advance of sick/vacation hours in the same way the employee would normally request to use any leave. Request can be made following your existing department procedures (i.e. Summit, ETS or by email.)
Are there new time reporting codes for PEPEL?
Yes. Use 361 or 362, which is available on the drop-down menu as you are submitting your time for payroll. Feel free to reach out to your supervisor or manager, Payroll, your Human Resources generalist, or Labor Relations with any questions as they come up.
Can an employee use PEPEL in increments?
Yes. Employees can use it in as small as quarter-hour increments, as long as the reason for use aligns with the intended purpose outlined in Table A (below). For example: An employee who is able to telework but can only telework for part of their normal day due to COVID-19 childcare-related issues, could use PEPEL hours to supplement the regular hours worked.
Can intermittent, part-time and temporary employees use PEPEL?
It depends, but yes for most. Current employees as of March 14, 2020, if and when the employee needs to use PEPEL hours, their hours have already been pro-rated based on average hours worked and their prorated PEPEL hours have been assigned for them to access in the time reporting system.
New hire intermittent, part-time and temporary employees: If and when the employee needs to use PEPEL hours, their proration will be based on average number of hours worked in the last four pay periods.
Intermittent employees without a regular schedule could use PEPEL for a shift they were expected to work, but are unable to because of a COVID-19 health related issue per Table A (below).
Can PEPEL hours result in overtime?
No. The 80 PEPEL hours are intended to replace or supplement regularly scheduled hours.
Do I need documentation to return from PEPEL leave or fitness for duty?
It depends. Contact your supervisor and describe the situation. Your supervisor will evaluate your request to return and determine if a "release to return to work" or "fitness for duty" statement is required from a health care provider. Our intent is to continue to follow MDH and CDC guidelines and the answer may change as the pandemic changes. Feel free to reach out to Payroll, your Human Resources generalist, or Labor Relations with any questions as they come up.
Workspace cleaning and disinfecting
Has Ramsey County implemented enhanced cleaning or sanitizing procedures at buildings?
Enhanced cleaning procedures have been put in place at facilities used by Ramsey County in accordance with CDC guidelines. This includes the use of an EPA-registered disinfectant and increased cleaning frequencies in the high-traffic, high-touch public-facing and common areas that are routinely cleaned by the custodial staff. The high-traffic areas include building entries, elevator lobbies, elevators, stairwells, break rooms and restrooms. The disinfecting includes high-touch surfaces such as door handles/knobs, push plates, hand rails, railings, elevator buttons, light switches, drinking fountains, countertops, paper towel dispensers, hand dryers, toilets, faucets and sinks. - Ramsey County Property Management.
Is Ramsey County providing hand sanitizer for employees and residents at buildings?
Property Management has deployed hand sanitizer dispenser stands to the entries of all buildings with redesigned service delivery and to specific service transaction counters. Supplies are in high demand and are prioritized to healthcare and resident-facing service locations. Employees are responsible for their own personal hygiene and should wash their hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or provide their own personal hand sanitizer in accordance with the guidance from the CDC and MDH. - Ramsey County Property Management
Should I disinfect my work space and common department work areas?
Cleaning of individual work spaces (surfaces, chairs, files, electronics, etc.) and common department work areas (conference room tables/chairs, office equipment, etc.) remains your responsibility and doing so routinely is recommended. No increased frequency is necessary in cleaning the surfaces of your personal workspace, unless you have been ill, in which case a routine cleaning would be advised. High-touch surfaces in common department work areas should be cleaned regularly. Best practice is for cleaning surfaces before and after use, then wash hands after cleaning is complete. Products for cleaning of individual work spaces and common department work areas are the responsibility of the individual and department. - Ramsey County Property Management
How should I clean electronics such as phone, computer and keyboard?
For electronics, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products. If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids. - CDC
Cleaning tips for your computer
Use only mild cleaning solutions (non-ammonia based and non-abrasive) and a damp lint-free, soft cloth to clean the painted cover surfaces of the computer.
- Apply cleaner onto the cloth.
- Absorb the cleaner into a sponge or lint-free, soft cloth.
- Squeeze out the excess liquid from the sponge or cloth.
- Wipe the cover using a circular motion taking care not to let any excess liquid drip.
- Wipe the surface to remove any left-over cleaner.
- Rinse the sponge or cloth with clean running water and squeeze out any excess liquid.
- Wipe the cover with the clean sponge or lint-free, soft cloth.
- Wipe the surface again with a dry, lint-free, soft cloth.
- Wait for the surface to dry completely and then remove any fibers left from the sponge or cloth.
Cleaning your computer keyboard
- Absorb some isopropyl alcohol on a lint-free, soft cloth.
- Squeeze out excess liquid from the lint-free, soft cloth.
- Wipe the keytop surface with the lint-free, soft cloth, ensuring no liquid drips on or between the keys.
- Allow to dry.
Never spray or pour any liquid cleaner directly on the LCD display or the keyboard. You can use compressed air from a compressed air can to remove any crumbs and dust from beneath the keys. Do NOT use an air compressor.
Cleaning your computer LCD display
- Gently wipe the display with a dry, lint-free, soft cloth.
- Wipe or dust the stain gently with a dry, soft cloth.
- If a stain, smudge, or other blemish remains, moisten a lint-free, soft cloth with water or a 50-50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water (distilled or deionized).
- Wring out as much of the liquid as you can from the lint-free, soft cloth.
- Wipe the display again; do not let any liquid drip into the computer.
- Allow the display to dry, then close the lid if the computer has one.
Anti-static LCD cleaning cloths, Kim Wipes, and some types of lens cleaning wipes are also acceptable alternatives for a lint-free, soft cloth. Isopropyl Alcohol is a flammable liquid. Do not use this cleaner near an exposed flame or when the system is on.
Is Ramsey County providing disposable wipes for employees at buildings?
Disposable wipes are not typically provided by Ramsey County. Property Management did place an order for disposable wipes weeks ago, but this order is unlikely to be filled due to the demand. – Ramsey County Property Management
What can employees do to clean or sanitize work areas if/when hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are not available?
The CDC recommends spraying surfaces with spray disinfectant and wiping away with a paper towel. When using a disinfectant, staff members should spray the solution onto the work surface, let it stand 2–3 minutes and then wipe it away. Please refer to the directions on the bottle.
The CDC indicates that diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1,000 ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least one minute. Prepare a diluted bleach solution by mixing four teaspoons bleach per quart of water.
Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after completing any cleaning or disinfecting. It is important to remember that mechanically wiping off surfaces or washing your hands with regular soap and water removes the majority of contaminants. Cleaning does not kill the virus, but will lower their numbers and decrease the risk of spreading infection. Individuals and departments are responsible for obtaining these products. - Ramsey County Property Management
What should we do about materials in waiting rooms and waiting areas?
Department staff members should remove from waiting areas any and all magazines or other reading materials intended for shared use by residents. Similarly, any toys or other items intended for shared use by children in waiting areas should be removed. – Ramsey County Property Management
Should we consider completely restricting food delivery and takeout?
The CDC has not recommended restricting use of takeout food but does recommend washing hands before and after eating with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. HR’s Occupational Health and Safety has recommended break areas and kitchens replace washable dishes and utensils with single use varieties and limit the number of staff members in these areas to maintain six feet of distance at all times.
Cloth face coverings (homemade masks)
Should employees wear cloth face coverings or home made masks?
Effective June 22, all Ramsey County employees are required to wear face coverings while conducting county business indoors in any facility, in any vehicle where there is more than one person, and while outdoors within close contact (less than 6 feet) of other individuals. Ramsey County has provided employee with two reusable cloth face coverings.
Employees may also wear cloth face coverings of their own choosing, as long as their masks meet the criteria set forth the county’s face covering policy. This policy can be found in the Administrative Policy Manual (Chapter 1, Section 5) on RamseyNet. Changes to county policies and other helpful information relating to COVID-19 are also announced in Ramsey News, the weekly e-newsletter emailed to all county employees.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). The CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. If you are not having any symptoms and are going out in public, wearing a cloth face covering will help you from spreading any infection. If you do wear a cloth face covering, the CDC notes it is important to wash it every day to get rid of any trapped viruses or bacteria.
In addition to wearing a cloth face covering or mask, it’s important that we all continue to follow these proven prevention recommendations:
- Maintain social distancing,
- Cover your cough and sneezes.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Wipe surfaces down regularly to avoid them becoming infected.
How to make a cloth face covering
Here are some links to information about making a homemade mask from credible sources provided by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
- How to Make Your own Face Covering (CDC)
- Facemask Kit (Providence St. Joseph Health)
- How to sew a simple fabric facemask (YouTube)-
- How to make a face mask (Allina Health)
- Facemask directions (Joan Glass)
- Facemask: A picture tutorial
- Taiwanese Doctor teaches how to DIY cloth face mask
Can employees wear a face mask or gloves at work? (Updated July 17)
Effective June 22, all Ramsey County employees are required to wear face coverings in all buildings owned, leased, or managed by Ramsey County. The policy covers employees while working indoors and while outdoors when within close contact of other individuals. Ramsey County has provided employee with two reusable cloth face coverings. Employees may also wear cloth face coverings of their own choosing.
Check RamseyNet for additional detail on the county’s face covering policy, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and additional guidance on use and care of cloth masks. Changes to county policies and other helpful information relating to COVID-19 are also announced in Ramsey News, the weekly e-newsletter emailed to all county employees.
If you are handling documents, mail or other items, surgical gloves are not needed for this activity and will lead to a false sense of security (potentially increasing the risk). As soon as a glove is contaminated it is useless and the practice would likely further deplete supplies needed for health care workers who need them. The most important protective steps are to maintain six-foot separation, wash hands frequently and avoid touching your face. Touching your face with a contaminated glove is the same as doing it with your ungloved hand.
What should supervisors do if employees are concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19?
Supervisors should be empathetic to their employees’ concerns. Employees should be encouraged to follow the same precautions used to avoid getting a cold, the flu or other infectious diseases. These precautions include staying home when sick, washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and not touching your face.
Employees who have safety concerns should discuss those concerns with their supervisor. Supervisors should provide guidance or consult with Human Resources and Public Health.
Can an employee be required to perform work outside of the employee’s job description?
Given that the employee absentee rates could climb as high as 40% during a potential pandemic, it may be necessary for each department to reassign staff in order to maintain essential services. If departments do not have adequate staffing to provide essential services, employees may be drawn from other county departments to fill the gap.
Health insurance, workers' compensation and short-term disability
Will our health plan cover the cost of COVID-19 testing?
Yes. If you are a HealthPartners member, HealthPartners is waiving cost-sharing for administration for the COVID-19 laboratory test (regardless of where the test is performed). HealthPartners is also waiving cost-sharing related to an office visit or urgent care visit associated with the test. For more information, visit the HealthPartners Coronavirus page.
Should I file a workers’ compensation claim if I tested positive for COVID-19 and believe it occurred as a result of work activities?
If an employee believes an exposure event involving COVID-19 has occurred as a result of work activities, they are encouraged to report the event to the county’s workers’ compensation program through the online claim reporting portal. Minnesota statute and the specific details of the exposure will be reviewed to determine whether coverage under workers’ compensation is appropriate given the event’s circumstances.
May I use short-term disability for COVID-19?
If you are enrolled in a short-term disability insurance benefit, it may be used to cover some income if you miss work due to illness or injury. Payments only apply to your own illness or injury, not an employee’s family member’s illness or injury.
When your short-term disability benefit begins depends on the plan in which you are enrolled. You may use your accrued leave balances to cover the waiting period.
Who is most at risk?
People of all ages have become infected with coronavirus, but people over the age of 50 with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at greater risk of serious illness. -MDH and Twin Cities Public Television (TPT)
When should I stay home or consider self-quarantine?
If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, you should stay home no matter what is causing the infection—coronavirus, influenza, rhinovirus etc. If you have mild symptoms and cannot stay home, you should minimize your time in public, wear a mask, wash your hands thoroughly, and avoid people with chronic medical conditions who are susceptible to coronavirus. - MDH and TPT
Who gets tested for coronavirus, and who does the testing?
If a physician determines a patient has symptoms, travel history and other factors compatible with COVID-19, they call MDH to discuss the case. When a patient requires a test, a sample is taken from their nose and mouth and sent to the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Lab.- MDH
Do people completely recover from coronavirus?
Yes. Most people do. Those who have chronic medical conditions or a severe coronavirus infection may take longer to fully recover. - MDH and TPT
How long does the virus last on surfaces?
Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings. -CDC
Should staff be using Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)s like N95 masks or gloves?
N95 masks and gloves are only necessary for a small number of county staff who work directly with sick people in health care settings and in certain situations in correctional settings. All other staff should be wearing cloth masks when indoors or when outdoors in close proximity to others and do not need to wear latex or nitrile gloves.
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
How can I receive updates about COVID-19?
With Workspace Alerts, you can be automatically notified about relevant COVID-19 updates wherever you are. Review the instructions for workspace alerts to sign up.
How will I be notified if I should not come to work?
If the facility is closing and/or release of county employees is brought about by an official declaration of an emergency or related closings, the County Manager or designee will report the closing and/or release of employees to department directors and affected staff members. The notice will may be sent out via the county’s adopted notification system, Everbridge. Department directors will also notify affected staff members directly of any changes to their operations.
How can I re-watch the COVID-19 online training video?
You can re-watch the COVID-19 online training video by accessing your transcript in the Learning and Development Center and clicking on the drop-down menu that says "active" and selecting "completed." The COVID-19 training video, along with other previously completed trainings, will appear. Click the "launch" button to the right of the COVID-19 training video to replay it. You will have the option to return to where you left off or restart the video.
Telecommuting and remote work
What is the county policy?
Do I work 8 am to 4:30 pm work hours?
Telecommuters’ daily work schedule will be agreed between the Telecommuter and his or her supervisor. The Telecommuter must notify his or her supervisor to report any schedule changes.
Will Ramsey County pay for or reimburse the cost of WiFi?
No. Ramsey County will not pay or reimburse employee WiFi cost.
How do employees keep up to date with news and announcements from Ramsey County?
Employees, including those working remotely, are expected to stay up-to-date on employee news and announcements by reading Ramsey News (emailed every Tuesday), and regularly visiting RamseyNet (employee intranet) or the “Employee Information” section at ramseycounty.us/coronavirus. Other ways to stay informed include following Ramsey County on social media, subscribing to Ramsey County e-newsletters and signing up for Workspace Alerts (PDF).
When do I have to complete the training for COVID-19 Ad Hoc Telecommuting?
Telecommuting employees must complete the COVID-19 Ad Hoc Telecommuting training. The training can be accessed by visiting the Learning and Development Center. The Telecommuting employee should complete the training before beginning offsite work. Supervisors and managers will be notified of non-compliance.
How to track performance for staff who telecommute?
For work performance: Supervisors will establish individual expectations and monitor performance to ensure that department standards are met. Supervisors are expected to review the performance of their telecommuters on a regular basis to ensure compliance with agreed upon expectations and the COVID-19 Ad Hoc Telecommuting Policy. The Supervisors’ review should occur bi-weekly at a minimum during the COVID-19 Ad Hoc Telecommuting period.
If the telecommuting arrangement is not working, the supervisor should take immediate actions to assess the problems that are interfering with the work arrangement. The employee should work with his or her supervisor to find ways to avoid or mitigate the problems. If the problems persist, the supervisor should reconsider whether the employee or the role is suitable for the telecommuting working arrangement.
How to track schedule and hours for staff who telecommute?
Supervisors must ensure adherence to the agreed upon work hours. The daily work schedule will be agreed upon jointly by the telecommuter and his or her supervisor. The supervisor may allow occasional changes in telecommuting days or hours; changes to the established schedule should be agreed to by the supervisor and telecommuter in advance and in writing.
Can I use my personal computer or personal phone to work from home?
Information Services is working with county leadership to expand remote access services such as Office Web Access, Citrix and VPN, based on each departments’ service redesign plans and priorities. Please direct questions regarding what tools will be used for remote access to your supervisor.
How should I handle private data while working from home?
All files containing Ramsey County employee or client sensitive data must be stored in a locked drawer, file cabinet, case, or other secured location that is inaccessible to other household members. Please see the COVID-19 Ad Hoc Telecommuting Policy for more information.
Can I take my Ramsey County issued monitor, key board or mouse home?
Telecommuters may be able to take home certain kinds of work equipment for work-related purposes, including desk chairs, portable, rolling file cabinets with locks, and necessary technology equipment, such as computer monitors and keyboards. Telecommuters must obtain their manager or supervisor’s approval to take home work equipment. Please see the COVID-19 Ad Hoc Telecommuting Policy for more information.
What do I do if I can’t login?
Your first point of contact should be the service desk via the self-serve portal.
How can I access my desktop and files ?
Information Services is working with county leadership to expand remote access services such as Office Web Access, Citrix and VPN, based on each departments’ service redesign plans and priorities. Please direct questions regarding what tools will be used for remote access to your supervisor.
My computer was lost or stolen, who do I contact?
Your first point of contact should be the service desk via the self-serve portal.
My computer is damaged or just doesn’t work, who do I contact?
For county-owned equipment, contact the service desk via the self-serve portal.
Is Information Services working with departments to prioritize IT equipment distribution?
Yes. Equipment requests are fulfilled on a triage bases, urgent needs are prioritized, based on feedback from each department’s leadership team.
If I have a condition or disability, can I get an ADA accommodation while telecommuting from home?
Ramsey County will make workplace accommodations for those with conditions that existed pre-pandemic in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees who are requesting an accommodation while ad hoc telecommuting should contact Occupational Health and Safety in Human Resources at 651-266-2929 for information, support and resources.