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Oakland City Employee COVID-19 FAQs

Date Posted: March 19th, 2020 @ 6:57 PM
Last Updated: April 1st, 2020 @ 7:02 PM

General Information on COVID-19

What Is COVID-19?

Countries across the world are experiencing expanding outbreaks of respiratory Illness caused by a novel coronavirus. This illness is referred to throughout this document as “COVID-19”. The virus is spreading from person-to-person and the number of cases detected in the United States is growing. To date, Alameda County has confirmed approximately 283 COVID-19 positive cases and this number is expected to grow as testing becomes more available.

What Are The Symptoms?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure: high fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat.

Call your personal doctor if you develop symptoms and have been in close contact (within 6 feet for a prolonged period of time) with a person confirmed to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19. Additionally, you may be eligible for the City-sponsored COVID-19 testing. Please see the Guidelines.

Source: CDC

What Can I Do To Stay Healthy Or Slow The Spread Of COVID-19?

Practice these illness-prevention measures:

  • Wash hands with soap and hot water and rub for at least 20 second or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • If you are sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms, stay home;
  • Avoid close contact (less than 6 feet) with people who are sick;
  • Get a flu shot to protect yourself and others from the flu, which has some similar symptoms to COVID-19;
  • Use disinfectant wipes to routinely clean frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, including your work station, door handles, phone, computer keyboard, remote controls, and other work equipment;
  • The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • If you are required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), please ensure that you are properly wearing it while working.
  • Follow the City’s Safety Protocols.

How Do I Get Tested For COVID-19?

You may contact your personal doctor or local clinic. Additionally, you may be eligible for testing offered by the City. Please see the Guidelines and call Encompass if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or had direct contact with someone who was confirmed to have COVID-19.

What is the best way to practice good hand hygiene?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

  • Wash both sides of the hands, between fingers and under the nails.

  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/cleanhands for more information on hand hygiene.

Alameda County Public Health Shelter in Place Order

What Is The Shelter In Place Order?

On March 16, 2020, the Health Officer of Alameda County ordered Alameda County residents to shelter in their place of residence except to provide or receive “essential services.” The City of Oakland is obligated to continue “Essential Government Functions.” This Order was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on April 7, 2020.

Yesterday, March 31, 2020, the County extended the Order to May 3, 2020.

What Are “Essential Government Functions?”

With respect to City of Oakland employees, the Order exempts from the shelter in place requirement the following essential government functions: public works, construction, construction of housing, airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, telecommunication systems, first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement, and others who perform essential services as determined by the government entity.

What Is The Difference Between The Governor’s Order And The County’s Shelter In Place Order?

On March 19, 2020, following Alameda County’s Shelter-In-Place Order, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order directing California residents to follow the County Order and stay home except to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure sectors and additional sectors as the State Public health Officer may designate. In essence, the Executive Order supplements the County Order and still exempts “essential government functions.”

Who Determines “Essential Government Functions?”

Every Oakland City Department, in consultation with the City Administrator’s Office, determined what are “essential government functions” in accordance with the Order. This is subject to change.

If you provide an essential government function, your Supervisor will give you notice and provide your schedule. If directed, the City expects you to work.

When does the Shelter in Place Order end?

Currently, the Order will expire at 11:59 p.m. on May 3, 2020.

City Employees Working Under the Order

If I am able to telecommute during the order must I?

Yes: If you are able to work, you must telecommute. The City of Oakland issued a Temporary Telecommute Policy, Application, and Agreement. To telecommute, the application and agreement must be completed and approved by the Department. You are then required to telecommute and follow the agreement in place with your supervisor unless directed otherwise. You must perform meaningful work and respond to your manager/supervisor while telecommuting. If you cannot telecommute for any reason, including without limitation to you become sick, need to care for a sick family member, need to quarantine, or need to care for your children for any reason, you should advise your supervisor. You can use your paid leave accruals to code your timecard.

How Do I Code My Time If I Am Approved To Telecommute?

If you are performing telecommute work, you should code your timecard as “REG” (NONSWORN).

May I Work Overtime If I Am Approved To Telecommute?

Yes, but only if you receive advanced authorization from your supervisor.

What If I Get Sick While Telecommuting Or Need To Care For An Ill Family Member?

You should immediately let your supervisor know if you are too sick to telecommute or need to care for an ill family member. You must then code your timecard as “SCK” or “FAM SCK.”

If I Cannot Telecommute, Am I Required To Come Into Work?

You should immediately let your supervisor know if you are too sick to telecommute or need to care for an ill family member. You must then code your timecard as “SCK” or “FAM.”

Will I Get Paid If I Am Required To Report To Work?

Yes. You must code your timecard as “REG NONSWORN.”

If I Get Sick Or Need To Care For An Ill Family Member, Am I Required To Come Into Work?

No. However, you must notify your supervisor immediately. You must then code your timecard as “SCK” or “FAM.”

Am I Required To Bring In A Doctor’s Note If I Am Sick And Cannot Report To Work?

During the Order, you do not need to bring in a doctor’s note to use (code your timecard with) paid sick leave (SCK). However, you may be required to bring in a doctor’s note or obtain clearance to return to work, including if you test positive to COVID-19. Please consult your MOU and/or Single Point of Contact (SPOC) with any questions.

If I Am Not Ordered to Report To Work, Will I Get Paid?

If you do not perform an essential government function and/or are not required to report to work , the City placed you on “paid administrative leave” at the outset of the County’s Order through April 7, 2020. The City will continue to keep Full-Time and Permanent Part-Time (PPT) employees on paid administrative leave (ADO) through the next pay period ending April 17, 2020. The City will provide further direction for the next pay period.

If I Am On Paid Administrative Leave And I Get Sick Or Need To Care For A Sick Family Member, How Should I Code My Time Card?

You should notify your supervisor and code your timecard “SCK” or “FAM.” If you do not have any accrued paid sick leave, for the duration of the Order only, you may use other paid leave such as vacation, compensatory time, floating holiday and/or management leave. Please notify your supervisor of the leave you wish to use so that your timecard is coded accurately.

If I Am Over The Age Of 65, Am I Required To Work?

If you are 65 or older, you should stay at home per Governor Newsom’s Order. If you could not telecommute, the City placed you on paid administrative leave (ADO) through April 7, 2020. The City will continue to keep you on paid administrative leave (ADO) through the next pay period ending April 17, 2020. You should code your timecard as “ADO.” The City will provide further direction for the next pay period.

If I Have A Medical Condition, Am I Required To Work?

When the Public Health Order was issued, if you had a “chronic medical condition” that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines as “(1) chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma; (2) serious heart conditions; (3) people who are immunocompromised; (4) severe obesity (BMI of 40 or higher); (5) diabetes; (6) chronic kidney disease, and/or (7) liver disease.” and you notified your supervisor, Department Head, or Risk Management, the City placed you on paid administrative leave (ADO) through April 7, 2020.

For the next pay period ending April 17, 2020, if you cannot work as directed by the Department because you have a chronic health condition affecting your lungs or heart or diabetes, you must provide medical documentation demonstrating a chronic health condition as defined by the CDC. Risk Management has created a form that you can access here for your personal physician to complete if you have not already provided medical documentation certifying your chronic health condition.

If you provide a completed form to Risk Management or a doctor’s note certifying the chronic health condition, you are authorized to code your timecard with ADO. If you do not and until you provide this completed medical documentation to the City, you may use your accrued paid leave balances.

If you do not have a “chronic medical condition” as defined by the CDC as it pertains to COVID-19, but believe you should stay home due to some other condition, you may use your accrued leave balances. You should notify your supervisor as to how you wish to code your time.

What If I Am A Temporary Part Time Employee?

In the event you have been telecommuting, you should continue to do so. Temporary part-time employees who cannot telecommute and do not work the remainder of their regular schedule from March 21 through April 7, 2020 should use the Administrative Leave (ADO) time element. Use of ADO from March 21 through April 7 may not exceed a TPT’s regularly scheduled hours and must not exceed the 960 hour fiscal year limit.

City of Oakland Employees and COVID-19

What If I Have Been Exposed To COVID-19 But Have No Symptoms?

If you have been in direct contact with someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19, contact and follow the directions of your personal healthcare provider. If your doctor recommends that you quarantine at home and you have been directed to work or telecommute because you provide an essential government function, please contact your supervisor if you are not well enough to work. In this case, you should code your timecard as “SCK.”

As an alternative option, you may be eligible for the City’s COVID-19 testing process. Employees who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms or have direct contact with a COVID-19 positive person and four days have gone by since the exposure, you may be eligible for testing. Following the City testing, you should immediately contact your physician for instructions on whether you need to quarantine and update your supervisor. Please consult these Guidelines for more information on the City testing process.

According to the Public Health Department, employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 and have no symptoms may work unless directed otherwise by their doctor. Please do not assume that, because you have heard someone may have tested positive for COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to COVID-19 but have no symptoms, you or your co-workers should not report to work as directed. You should contact your doctor with questions and update your supervisor. If you hear rumors about COVID-19, please contact your supervisor to discuss.

Make sure that you are following the direction of your physician, CDC, County Public Health, and the City’s Risk Management division.

If I Am Experiencing Flu-Like Symptoms, What Should I Do?

The CDC recommends that if you suspect that you have been infected with COVID-19, you should stay home to minimize the potential spread of the COVID-19. Alert your doctor if you have been experiencing symptoms or have questions about your symptoms. You may also be eligible for the City’s COVID-19 testing and must consult the Guidelines for direction. Please contact your supervisor to inform them that you will not be reporting to work. Minimizing the spread of the virus is critical. Notify Risk Management if you receive a positive COVID-19 test result. Your Single Point of Contact (SPOC) can guide you through City leave policies. Additional information may be found at this link on the CDC website.

If I Have Tested Positive For COVID-19, What Should I Do?

  • Follow the guidance of your doctor.
  • Inform your supervisor or Risk Management.
  • Remain under home isolation and follow the recommendation of your physician until you are cleared to return to work. Typically, you will need to be symptom-free for approximate 96 hours.
  • The City will take additional actions as directed by the Alameda County Public Health Department.
  • If you test positive through the City’s COVID-19 testing, please contact your personal doctor immediately for further guidance.

What Will The City Do If A Co-Worker Tests Positive For COVID-19?

If a City employee provides essential government functions, reports to a worksite, then later tests positive for COVID-19, the City will assess the exposure. More specifically, upon learning for a COVID-19 positive test, the City will trace the employee’s steps at the workplace to identify any other employee who may have had direct contact with the COVID-19 positive employee while symptomatic or in the prior fourteen days. Exposed employees who are identified will receive an individualized communication from the Department with specific instructions on what to do. Subsequently, the City may issue a Department-wide communication and also work on decontaminating the worksite.

28. If I Tested Positive For COVID-19 Or Experienced Flu-Like Symptoms, When Can I Return To Work?

You should follow the direction of your doctor and return to work once cleared. Generally, you should be COVID-19 symptom free for at least 96 hours to be allowed to return to work. The City may request a physician’s note. Departments should reach out to their Risk Management contact for assistance.

If I Contract COVID-19 Or I Am Placed In Quarantine By My Physician Or Public Health Officials, Can I Use Sick Leave?

Yes. You may use paid accrued sick leave if available and code your time as “SCK.” If you do not have any accrued unused paid sick leave, you may use your other accrued paid leave such as vacation, compensatory time, management leave, or floating holiday for the duration of the Order. If you do not have any accrued leave balances, eligible employees may borrow (and the City will advance) 75, 80 or 96 hours of paid sick leave, depending on your regular schedule.

What If I Do Not Have Any Accrued Unused Paid Leave?

If you have no accrued leave, including sick, vacation, compensatory time, or management leave, starting April 8, 2020, certain employees may borrow up to 75, 80 or 96 hours of paid sick leave (depending on your regular schedule). To be eligible, you must have exhausted all of your paid leave and complete the City’s request for and repayment agreement. Please see the policy and application for further guidance.

What If I Want To Take “Voluntary Time Off With No Pay (VTN)”?

The City has Administrative Instruction 511 – Voluntary Time Off With No Pay, which allows for employees to take time off without pay and not impact their seniority or benefits. Please see follow the instruction and application for further guidance.

What do I do if I suspect someone of having COVID-19?

All employees and members of the public shall be treated with courtesy and respect. A person’s risk for COVID-19 depends on a variety of factors that do not relate to the person’s race or ethnicity. You should not assume that someone has COVID-19 simply because they cough or sneeze. You should not ask about someone’s medical condition or inquire into whether they have COVID-19. If you suspect that a co-worker has COVID-19, please discuss your concerns with your supervisor.

Should I Wear A Mask To Work To Reduce My Chances Of Getting COVID-19?

Employees who are required to work and wear masks as part of their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should continue to do so. All other employees should follow the advice of the CDC:

CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Additional information

Please note that the CDC and State continue to evaluate whether masks should be worn while outside, even if you do not present with COVID-19 symptoms. The City will update you immediately should the guidance change.

City of Oakland Employees are Disaster Service Workers

Am I Required To Work As A Disaster Service Worker?

California law designates all public employees as Disaster Service Workers (DSWs) who perform disaster-related duties as required to promote and maintain public health and safety during a declared emergency. DSWs may be required to come to work at any time of day to perform disaster-related duties.

If I Am Called Back To Work As A Disaster Service Worker, How Will I Know?

Employees will be directed to report to work by their Department Head or City Administration.

What Will I Have To Do As A Disaster Service Worker?

Assignments will be based on the needs of the City’s Emergency Operations Center, Department needs, employees’ skills and qualifications, and employee availability. Employees may have to perform general duties that are not part of their normal duties, such as clerical support, food preparation, sorting, packing or lading. Employees will not be assigned work for which they are not qualified or trained.