City adapts as employees test positive for COVID-19

As the numbers of COVID-19 positive cases in Brownsville continue to rise, about 40 City of Brownsville employees have tested positive for coronavirus since June 10, according to several press releases sent by the city, including police officers and firefighters.

To avoid the spread of the coronavirus among employees, the City of Brownsville follows a recovery plan, which requires all city employees to wear a facial covering or mask during working hours. This has been developed in partnership with the BTX Recovers Committee and outlines the role and responsibilities of all city employees as they enter any city facility and continue to work throughout the day, The City of Brownsville said.

“For example, all city employees entering any city facility must be health screened, including a series of 9 questions plus a temperature check. If the city employee answers all questions and does not have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more, they may enter and are allowed to work that day,” The City Manager’s Office said. “The health screening is conducted again in the afternoon as they return from lunch to see if there are any changes.”

In an earlier interview, Police Chief Felix Sauceda said that Brownsville PD is adhering strictly to its continuity plan, following guidelines and advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, as well as other expert medical advice.

“We developed and implemented a continuity plan, to include but not limited to ingress/egress protocol, exposure flow charts, facilitated testing, and strict adherence to protocol. We leaned on technology to further minimize physical contact, our officers attend virtual roll calls, have technology at their hands to engage in communication with our community members, and the organization has continued to build on varied service delivery options,” Sauceda said.

The City Manager’s Office also said they have developed a flowchart to identify the proper protocols for when an employee has been exposed to COVID-19 and it also provides a guide to the City Leadership Team to identify a low to high risk exposure.

“It also provides the protocols and steps to follow once an employee has been tested and is waiting for their results,” the city said. “For example, once an employee is considered medium – high risk, that employee is quarantined.”

Officials said after the third day after initial exposure, testing is conducted to the employee and if the results come back negative, that employee is allowed to go back to work; if the results come back positive, the employee is self-isolated for 14 days, the city said and added they also do contact tracing to help preserve other employees with whom they may have come in contact.

“Our response plans are tailored to each department’s service delivery, but some ways the City has promoted social distancing is doing telework and variable shifts,” the city said. “In some departments, we have altered our service model, but not suspended it: to date, we have maintained a healthy cycle with some returning from self-isolation as others now enter it.”

Officials said they are doing all they can to maintain their ability to provide the services the City of Brownsville requires from its city government and that the safety and health of the city and its employees is of utmost importance.

“As we are all learning, this pandemic will shift and pivot. We have daily conversations to shift and pivot with it (pandemic) and try to stay ahead of it to continue to achieve our responsibility, safely, to our City and its citizens,” the city said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 1,366 residents have tested positive, 665 have recovered and 21 have died in Brownsville.

To get tested through the City of Brownsville, visit btxcares.com

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com