City Manager to New Bern Board of Aldermen: COVID-19 update

Mayor Outlaw and Aldermen,

I wanted to give each of you an update as to preparations that are taking place internally and externally for the City of New Bern.  As you know, the City does not play the lead role in this type of pandemic outbreak.  This responsibility is with the Federal, State, and County governments.  Locally, much of the decisions and lead are provided at the County level with the Craven County Health Department.  However, the City will play a vital role in maintaining its operations and continuing to provide services to our citizens, as well as, support the County as requested when asked.  To that end, the City must take measures to ensure its continuity of operations to ensure that we can respond when called on and that some of our basic services of fire, police, and public utilities are uninterrupted during this event.  In order to do so, the City must take some actions to ensure that we can continue to provide these services and avoid unnecessary exposure of our staff to the virus should a local outbreak occur.  I reiterate from yesterday’s email that there are still NO confirmed cases in Craven County or New Bern, but that could change at any moment.  Just yesterday, there was a confirmed case at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville and one the day before in Johnston County.  

Therefore, the following are some of the actions that staff are currently implementing to ensure our continuity of services.  City staff are in the process of postponing all unnecessary meetings and functions throughout all of our departments (i.e., Athletic activities, Citizen Police Academy, Car Seat Safety Checks, Coffee with a Cop, etc. to name a few).  Most of these activities are within the Parks & Recreation Department and our public safety departments of Fire and Police.  However, some of these activities and programs occur in other departments that will need to be cancelled as well.  While we understand that this may be an inconvenience for some, we feel that these proactive measures will protect our citizenry and ultimately our staff that will still be called upon to provide a high level of service when our community needs us.  Staff are in the process of contacting all of these activity coordinators to answer any questions they may have and coordinate any future sharing of information for the foreseeable future until these events can be rescheduled or reconvened.  Further announcements and closures may be necessary in the future as the evolution of the emergency heightens.

Additionally, staff are taking measures to ensure continuity of operations throughout whatever events may transpire during this outbreak.  Public Utilities are investigating and implementing strategies to ensure a continuity of services and separate key staff from one another to limit exposure to one another so that the limited number of operators we have can continue to operate critical facilities as necessary over the next several weeks.  Our IT staff have inventoried all employee workstations should the need arise that staff will be required to telework from their homes.  Human Resources is also investigating various temporary policy measures that may need to be implemented if necessary regarding administrative leave and workers compensation matters.  Also, I have ordered that all business related travel for the City be postponed for a minimum of 30 days unless necessary and approved through the City Manager’s office.  This will take effect immediately.

Below are some of the informational items that will be released regarding programming.  Further updates will be forthcoming as necessary and as always please feel free to contact me if you need anything further.

OPERATIONAL CHANGES DUE TO CONCERN FOR THE CORONAVIRUS

Effective Monday, April 16, 2020 and until further notice, the City of New Bern has implemented the following schedule changes to city facilities:

·         West New Bern Recreation Center will be open Monday through Saturday from 8am-6pm.

·         The Afterschool Program will remain in operation while Craven County Schools are still in session.

·         All other organized Parks & Recreation activities, programs, special events and youth and adult sports activities held at City of New Bern parks are SUSPENDED until further notice.

·         All City parks will remain open during normal hours.

For questions, please call City of New Bern Parks & Recreation at (252)639-2901.

The City will continue to evaluate the Coronavirus situation and communicate further schedule and operational changes as necessary.   We encourage everyone to heed the guidance and advice of health professionals at the CDC and the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services (NCDHHS).  To prevent the spread of illness, wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water and/or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Avoid touching your face.  Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough/sneeze into your elbow.  Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home if you are not feeling well.  And clean and disinfect objects and surfaces frequently.

The City has set up a Coronavirus resource repository, with links to information from the CDC, NCDHHS, World Health Organization (WHO) an the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on our website atwww.newbernnc.gov/coronavirus.

CITY OF NEW BERN CANCELLATIONS DUE TO CONCERN FOR THE CORONAVIRUS

Effective immediately and until further notice, the City of New Bern has implemented the following changes certain programming in our Police Department:

·         All police/community meetings scheduled for the month of March are cancelled to include Citizen Police Academy, Neighborhood Watch Meetings, Coffee with a COP, and Faith Based Partnerships.   

Sgt. Sneeden, will contact individual Citizen Police Academy participants and advise that it is our hope that the classes will resume at some future date.   Sgt. Brice will contact individuals committed to the March 23rd Faith Base Meeting and advise that we hope to reschedule the meeting around the end of April or 1st of May.  These individuals will remain the points of contact should any questions or concerns arise regarding these activities.

Subject: New Bern Fire Rescue – COVID-19 Preparations

In response to the challenges we currently face with the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), New Bern Fire Rescue has implemented the following precautions to minimize physical interaction between staff and the public:

– Front of all stations have been secured to detour walk-in or foot traffic (Headquarters is utilizing the intercom for public questions and assistance)

– Inventoried supplies potentially needed for isolation precautions while conducting patient care

– Evaluated Fire Inspection requirements (Reduced to essential inspections only, annual or scheduled inspections have been postponed)

– Postponed all Child Safety Seat inspections and Smoke detector installations (Only emergency needs will be considered, and will require the Duty Officer to approve with additional safety precautions)

– Educated staff on Social Distancing, home and work precautions and good practices, and disinfecting procedures

– Postponed all upcoming non-essential events and gatherings such as:

·         Open house

·         Retirement parties

·         Any prescheduled station tours

– Began working on staffing and operational plans should staffing levels become temporarily reduced due to impacts of COVID-19

·         If reduced by 25%

·         If reduced by 40%

·         If an exposure occurs at work

·         If an employee is exposed at home

·         If lifestyle challenges affect work schedules (school closings, sick family member, etc.)

Note:

Other gatherings that have already been postponed or canceled, and/or local actions taken:

·         Fire Prevention School in Wilmington (Canceled)

·         Vietnam Wall Tour (Canceled)

·         Craven Job Fair (Canceled)

·         Restricted visitation at all local hospitals

As our challenges change or increase, we will make the necessary modifications to staffing and operations to ensure to the continued service we deliver to the citizens of New Bern.

Mark A. Stephens, PE, MPA, ICMA-CM, city manager

March 13th, 2020 by
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