As COVID case rate climbs, county and city workers are back in the office full time

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

by Charlie Wolfson

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald made it clear at a Wednesday press conference that he doesn’t think workplace reopenings should be derailed by resurging COVID-19 infection rates and concerns over a more transmissible Delta variant.

He put words into action this week, too, when all county employees were required to be back in the office as of July 26.

“At this point, people should be back to the workplace,” Fitzgerald said Wednesday. “You’ve got CDC recommendations that can make that safe. Certainly the biggest thing to make it safe is vaccines.”

As case rates climb, some companies are beginning to rethink return-to-office plans laid before the Delta variant emerged.

Fitzgerald suggested that employers encourage or mandate their employees to get vaccinated and praised universities and the NFL for doing so. Earlier in the same news conference, he nodded to the reality facing the region and the country: “We know cases are going up,” he said. County health director Deborah Bogen said the county is averaging more than 70 cases per day now, up from fewer than 15 per day in late June. 

County spokesperson Amie Downs told PublicSource that 80% of the county government’s employees never worked from home because their jobs don’t allow for it. She said that of the other 20%, a “large segment” had returned to in-person work before the July 26 deadline. 

She said many county workers have worked in person throughout the pandemic by necessity. “An autopsy can’t be done via Zoom; a patient isn’t cared for remotely; roads can’t be paved working from home,” she said. “Thousands of our employees have dealt with these very issues for months.”

 

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As COVID case rate climbs, county and city workers are back in the office full time

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