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Town of Milford issues memo to employees

As of Mar. 17, John Shannon, town administrator for Milford, issued a memorandum to town employees regarding the initial action plan related to COVID-19.

“I have communicated with all departments heads and we are finding out who can work from home, who physically needs to be in the building, and who can be sent home in the short term if necessary,” he said. “Again, Town Hall is open to conduct normal operations.”

Shannon said his office has taken the necessary steps to reschedule or cancel non-essential meetings or events in the building and other town properties. 

“My goal is to still be able to conduct business in as normal a fashion as possible while exercising good operational risk management for the staff and our citizens,” he stated. “I have also been in contact with the school superintendent, library director, and the director of water utilities.  We will remain in touch with each other as needed.”

Shannon added that emergency management personne, “are in regular contact with NH Public Health, NH Emergency Management, and other state representatives. We will continue to coordinate with them and adjust our plans when applicable.”

The memo read: “In light of concerns about the emerging health crisis associated with the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as well as the ongoing influenza season, we are implementing the following protocols to mitigate concerns, protect our employees, and prevent contagion. As of this date, it is important to recognize that Milford is NOT in a high-risk area. The Town administration continues to monitor the situation on a daily basis and is committed to modifying the following protocols if and when it becomes necessary.”

“In addition, please note that discussions are ongoing with regard to the conditions surrounding the use of sick or other accrued leave in the event an employee is required to stay home due to the COVID-19 crisis. Much is, of course, dependent upon whether COVID-19 becomes widespread in our community and/or our region; again, we are monitoring the situation and will issue additional protocols if and when necessary.

TOWN PREVENTION MEASURES

BUSINESS TRAVEL: If you are scheduled to attend a conference, meeting or training session outside of New Hampshire in the course of your job duties, please inform your Department Head as to the relevant details, and a decision will be made as to whether you may continue with such travel plans, taking into account the timing of the travel and status of COVID-19 in the locale where the conference, meeting or training will occur.

PERSONAL TRAVEL: Employees traveling outside the US on their personal time OR to any U.S. community with sustained community transmission are asked to notify their supervisors of the destination, dates, and mode of transportation for their travel, including such travel of any close family member with whom the employee has close and regular contacts. Such supervisors are asked to forward such information to the Town Administrator.

CONTACT WITH TRAVELERS: Employees who have close personal contact with any COVID-19 symptomatic person from any area with a sustained community transmission are asked to notify their Department Head.

IF YOU ARE SICK WITH ANY KIND OF RESPIRATORY ILLNESS: STAY HOME! (See additional information in the Section below entitled, “STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK!”).

PERSONAL PREVENTION MEASURES

Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue into the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces when possible.

Facemasks are only recommended for people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent spreading it to others.

Employees who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately, and if the exposure occurs during the course of your job duties, also let your supervisor know.

Other than these administrative and personal prevention measures, we are maintaining a normal operating posture. We will keep you informed of any changes to our operations if, and when, they become necessary.

RISK CATEGORIES

Based on the latest information available from the CDC and NH DHHS, the following is additional information related to risk for contracting COVID-19:

No Identifiable Risk: Any interactions with a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection that do not meet any of the high-, medium- or low-risk conditions. Examples of such interactions include walking by the person or being briefly in the same room.

Low Risk: Being in the same indoor environment (e.g., a classroom, a hospital waiting room, a vehicle) as a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time but not meeting the definition of close contact.

Definition of Close Contact: The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person as follows:

Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK

Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.

If you stay home pursuant to this section (i.e., because you are sick with a respiratory illness), please also contact HR so that HR may assess whether FMLA or another leave policy may apply.

You will not be required to provide a healthcare practitioner’s note for absences due to acute respiratory illness to validate your illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way. We will revert to our standard requirements once this crisis is under better control.

If you are ill at work: The CDC recommends, and we will follow, that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).

At this time, we will not request or require testing of asymptomatic employees who may have had casual interaction with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 (e.g., a customer paying their taxes or visiting the library to check out a book). We will follow the recommendations from the CDC and the State of NH DHHS on this should they change.

Be mindful that we have flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. We are mindful that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.

NOTE: Should Milford become impacted by community spread of COVID-19, we will issue additional guidelines related to protocols for essential and non-essential workers.

Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the COVID-19:

Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and HR and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, we will inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a coworker with confirmed COVID-19 may refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.

For further information: https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/2019-ncov.htm

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