March 15 Message from Ryan O'Connor on COVID-19 Response
I want to open with an acknowledgement of the concerns among staff across our organization and the fear that is ever-present in our community as we actively work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. There is no way around it – we are facing one of the most significant Public Health challenges our community has faced in a century – and I want to let you know that Ramsey County leadership has been working around the clock throughout the weekend with partners at all levels and sectors on plans and next steps so that we remain as prepared as possible for whatever may come next. This week all 4,000 of us have a role to play in responding to the challenge in front of us, and I implore you to remember that it is in moments like this where everyone is reminded why public service matters and trust in local government persists.
Ramsey County will be open tomorrow (Monday, March 16) to provide the essential and important services across this community as we do every day. From our financial workers to librarians and nurses to probation and correctional officers – and every other job not mentioned – Ramsey County shows up every day to make sure our community is served in moments of need. Tomorrow is clearly one of those days. Service is in our values. In a moment like this we must be here to help provide our families, neighbors, friends and colleagues with a sense of safety, comfort, calm and support.
Changes to how we provide services and how we support our employees are at the top of our priority list for Monday, Tuesday and beyond. We are diligently working to develop service modification plans with every department and area that will allow us to change, adapt and ensure we are able to stay aligned with current Public Health guidelines and keep everyone inside and outside our organization safe for the immediate and long-term. Additionally, we are working in partnership with bargaining units on plans around compensation and leave to ensure that every employee, regardless of their title within the organization, will be supported throughout a COVID-19 health or quarantine-related absence. We will leave no one behind in our approach to supporting every staff person in this organization so long as this COVID-19 emergency is with us.
The next few days will be some of the most challenging as we quickly make significant changes to our services and operations to accommodate our new reality. We have many staff who need to come to work this Monday and beyond in 24/7 emergency functions. We also need to keep the rest of our important service delivery operations open. These services help knit our community together.
- Any employees: If you are defined as high-risk for COVID-19 based on federal, state and local health guidelines, please contact your supervisor immediately so that you can ensure you have accommodations to work from home or arrange the use of leave to be away from work.
- Supervisors, managers and directors – you are needed and expected to be working if at all possible to help us through these important service delivery redesigns and other planning needs on the fly.
- All other employees – If you are concerned about coming to work but don’t fit in the high-risk category, we want to do what we can to accommodate you now as our services get redesigned this week in preparation for the many weeks ahead. Please contact your supervisor to discuss the option of using the appropriate types of leave to accommodate that request, recognizing that we do need staff to continue to run our operations as changes continue to occur.
Please know that we are working diligently to anticipate developments. While we don’t have all the answers, we are committed to working through every issue as it arises. Our team at Ramsey County is strong and committed to public service. That matters and we’re all in this together. I can’t thank you enough for your dedication and flexibility during this extremely trying time.