County, IID say stay-home orders have had little impact on productivity

The Imperial County Public Health County Department is asking people whenever possible to work from home. Imperial County and Imperial Irrigation District report that telecommuting has had minimal impact on their productivity. PHOTO MICHAEL MARESH

IMPERIAL — Both the Imperial Irrigation District and the County of Imperial say the hundreds of employees who are working from home because of COVID-19 are having no impacts on productivity.

“Although productivity is important, the health and safety of our employees and our community is our priority,” said County Public Information Officer Linsey Dale. “Employees working from home have been given the necessary resources to ensure they are able to complete their tasks, as they would be able to in the office.”

She said, so far, the county has not seen a loss of productivity by employees working from home.

“We are all doing the best we can to continue providing the highest level of quality of service in the current situation we find ourselves in,” she wrote in an email.

IID Government Affairs and Communications Officer Antonio Ortega said there has not been a significant impact on productivity because most employees are still coming to work.

“While you are correct that there are some IID employees working from home (teleworking), the majority continue to report to work as we must continue to keep the lights on and the water flowing,” Ortega said.

From Jan. 4 to 8, 254 (18.8 percent) of the 1,353 IID employees were working from home, Ortega said. The county did not release these numbers.

Dale said more than 10 percent of the county’s approximately 2,400 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of March.

“Unlike the Imperial Irrigation District, the County of Imperial must continually provide social, health and first responder services to residents and visitors of Imperial County,” she wrote. “This creates a balancing act of continuing to provide needed services to our county while maintaining the health and safety of our employees and the public.”

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, she said many county offices are closed to public access and are operating with minimal in-person staff.

“Where possible, services that can be provided virtually have gone online. Employees able to telecommute are currently working from home,” Dale wrote.

The IID since March 2020 has had about 190 employees who have tested positive for COVID-19.

General Manager Henry Martinez told the board he has pulled back from mandating employees return to the work site because of the increasing numbers.

At the last IID board meeting on Jan. 5, he asked the directors as well as his staff to attend remotely in an effort to be safe.

About three weeks ago Martinez said one employee, who despite having his temperature taken onsite, wound up testing positive and infecting four other employees.

He said the district proactively implemented site-specific safety plans for all IID employees.

Following the outbreak, a deep cleaning and disinfection was performed at the worksite.

“The district has protocols in place to maintain a safe and healthy workplace, including social distancing, the use of face coverings, hand washing, disinfecting, and cleaning personal and common areas, temperature screening, and self-monitoring for any COVID-19 related symptoms,” he said.

Staff Writer Michael Maresh can be reached at mmaresh@ivpressonline.com.

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