Eleven employees of Richmond’s Department of Emergency Communications have tested posted for COVID-19 over the past two weeks, a spokeswoman for the department confirmed Thursday.
With a tenth of the call center’s 100 employees affected, “there has been minimal impact on 911 operations and a slight delay in non-emergency answer times,” Karen L. Gill said in an email.
No DEC employee has face-to-face contact with the public as a regular part of their jobs, she said.
“DEC has contingency plans and multiple redundancies in place to cover a multitude of situations, including those in which our workforce is reduced, so that we are always prepared to answer and dispatch all 911 calls and non-emergency calls in a timely manner,” Gill said. “For this particular situation, we have made staffing and scheduling changes to ensure that core functions are being met while employees are recovering.”
The first week of March, 98.2% of non-emergency calls were answered within 10 seconds; a week later, March 7-13, that measure of efficacy fell to 92.8% of non-emergency calls answered within 10 seconds, according to information provided by Gill.
“As always, we are encouraging the public to stay on the line until their call is answered, even if it’s a mistake, to help us save time and resources,” she said in the email.
The positive cases did not occur all at the same time, but intermittently over the past two weeks, Gill said.
The department worked with the Richmond Health District and VCU Health to offer employees two testing events this week, Gill said. Employees aren’t regularly tested at work, but their temperatures are checked before reporting for work in the emergency communications center.
“DEC is working with the Richmond-Henrico Health District and is following all applicable safety protocols to keep its workforce safe and provide for employees’ safe return to duty,” Gill said. “Fulfilling our critical mission and ensuring the safety of our employees is, and remains, our highest priority.”