9 City of Chandler employees have tested positive for virus The Chandler Arizonan

9 City of Chandler employees have tested positive for virus

9 City of Chandler employees have tested positive for virus
City News

By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

At least nine City of Chandler employees have contracted the COVID-19 virus since the pandemic began more than two months ago.

As of May 15, the city of Chandler reported nine employees tested positive for the coronavirus – a higher rate of infection than some nearby municipalities.

The City of Tempe has only reported two cases of COVID-19 among its staff and Gilbert claims none of its employees have been infected.

The City of Mesa could not provide a number of infected employees because it apparently hasn’t been tracking cases for the last two months.

“The city is not tracking information about whether city employees have tested positive so we don’t have any information or documents regarding that,” city spokesman Kevin Christopher said.

He did not elaborate as to why Mesa is not tracking employees, given that many interact with the public.

Privacy laws prohibit cities from publicly revealing who specifically been infected and Chandler is not disclosing which departments they work in.

The city did say three of the nine infected employees worked in positions that involve frequent interactions with the public.

Four of Chandler’s nine workers have already returned to work and the remaining five should all be cleared to return by the end of next week, a city spokesperson said.

Chandler has already begun the process of reopening its facilities to the public again despite a significant number of COVID-19 cases reported across the city.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Chandler’s ZIP codes have been reporting some of the highest rates of the coronavirus seen in Maricopa County.

Between April and May, five Chandler ZIP codes saw their combined total of COVID-19 cases jump from 149 to 429.

The area of 85224, which is home to several medical facilities and nursing homes, has had more than 180 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — only Mesa’s 85206 has been logging numbers this high in the East Valley.

Both ZIP codes are homes as well to hospitals – Chandler Regional Medical Center in 85224 and Banner Baywood Medical Center in 85206, where a number of senior communities also exist.

The way local governments have dealt with cases of the coronavirus has been under public scrutiny practically since the pandemic started back in March.

The first person in Arizona to die from COVID-19 was an employee for the city of Phoenix’s Aviation Department. The patient, a man in his 50s, died on March 17 and the city was not informed he had tested positive for the virus until three days after his death.

Chandler has a lengthy protocol process in place for instances when a COVID-19 case is reported among its employees.

A city worker who tests positive for the virus must notify their supervisor.

Department directors and the city’s human resources office are then notified and guide the employee through potentially using Chandler’s paid-leave program.

The employee’s work area is then secured and undergoes a rigorous disinfectant process. The infected employee is told they should not return to work until they’re cleared by a health care provider.

If the employee had been at work within six days of when they first felt symptoms of COVID-19, then their immediate coworkers would be notified.

Tempe’s protocol is similar in that the city sends out letters to employees who may have had contact with an infected colleague and instructs them to check themselves for symptoms of the virus.

In Chandler, coworkers of an infected employee are instructed to stay home if they detect signs of the coronavirus.

The Human Resources Department attempts to help the coworker get tested for COVID-19 and confirm whether they have the virus.

If the test results come back positive, then Chandler’s protocol is to initiate paid leave benefits for the employee and instruct them not to return to work until they’re cleared by a doctor.

The protocols from other municipalities have some similarities and differences compared to how Chandler’s been dealing internally with COVID-19 cases.

In Gilbert, the protocol specifically requires an infected employee to demonstrate they’ve not had a fever for at least 72 hours before they’re allowed to return to work.

Tempe encourages the coworkers of an infected employee to wear a face mask for 14 days from the time they last had contact with the individual.

A Mesa city spokesman said a draft of their protocol is currently under review with the city manager and did not disclose details of what it contains.

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