The city has issued notice to residents that it’s limiting many in-person services because several employees — 33 as of Friday — have tested positive for coronavirus or are quarantined because of exposure.

The city’s ability to provide services hasn’t been changed, but the city’s taking extra precautions to reduce the chance of infection among employees, officials said.

Of the 33 employees in quarantine, about a third, 12 people, are in the public works department, according to city records.

The others are scattered throughout departments such as police, fire, utilities and city marshals, according to the records.

The 33 include people who tested positive for COVID-19 and who are in self-isolation because they were exposed, city spokeswoman Marissa Barnett said.

The city has been following strict social distancing guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she said.

If an employee notifies the city he or she has tested positive, a contract crew decontaminates the area where that employee worked and common spaces, Barnett said.

The city this week announced it would start limiting in-person interaction at City Hall, 823 25th St., after opening the building to appointments in May.

That means online and drive-through payments and phone interviews, Barnett said.

Residents should also expect some delays in street projects such as on 25th and 73rd streets because employees of the contractors working on those projects are in quarantine, Barnett said.

“We are very short-staffed right now,” City Manager Brian Maxwell said.

The trouble is that when one person tests positive, employees on the same shift as that person have to quarantine until they can get tested, Maxwell said.

And when cases are concentrated in one department, that can cause issues, Maxwell said.

The city this week released parking restrictions meant to spread out crowds similar to measures it has taken all summer. Those rules restrict parking on the north side of Seawall Boulevard, on the east and west ends of the seawall and at Diamond Beach and are expected to last through the summer.

The point of the restrictions is to keep first responders safe and prevent them from being around crowds that could increase their chances of contracting the coronavirus, officials said.

But the city can continue to provide services uninterrupted, Maxwell said.

“We’re doing everything we can to maintain services,” Maxwell said.

As precautions, the city is requiring employees to wear masks and spread out workspaces, Barnett said.

The city is planning on offering on-site testing next week that it’s encouraging employees to use, Barnett said.

It also is planning to acquire more personal protective gear.

Galveston this week issued a call for bid on N-95 masks and other disposable masks, gloves, gowns and protective eye wear, Barnett said.

The city earlier this year received a $100,000 grant from the Moody Foundation for such materials.

Keri Heath: 409-683-5241; or on Twitter @HeathKeri.


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