Important SCWA Forms:

Temporary Telecommuting Policy

Equipment Loan Agreement

Guidelines for N95, P95 and R95 Masks

Guidance on Returning to Work After COVID-19

COVID-19 Isolation Form

COVID-19 Quarantine Form

Obtaining an Order of Quarantine 

Expert Resources

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

World Health Organization (WHO)

New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH)

COVID-19 Testing Information

Guidance from CDC

Disinfecting Your Facility if Someone is Sick

How Coronavirus Spreads

Share the Facts

What To Do If You Are Sick

The President's Coronavirus Guidelines for Americans  

 

When Can I Return to Work?

If a positive case is seeking information and/or testing to end isolation period, advise that Suffolk County Dept. of Health Services approval is required but additional testing may not be required if following criteria are met as established by the CDC:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
  •  At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Individuals with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue home isolation when at least 7 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and have had no subsequent illness.

Testing may be needed for those who are immunocompromised.

All callers who identify as positive case seeking information on discontinuation of isolation can be referred to 4-0333 for discussion with public health nurse.

 

Working Remotely? - Stay Home Please

If you have been given approval to work from home, please stay home. We have had a few recent instances of employees coming in to cover for another employee or work in the office partial days and then develop symptoms of COVID. This puts the rest of the employees at risk unnecessarily.

The purpose of working from home is to limit the exposure and the spread of the virus. It defeats the purpose when you come into the office.

If the management of the department wants to alternate schedules for employees to have coverage in the office, please schedule 1 week in and 1 week out. However, it is preferred for employees approved to work from home to continue to work from home until this crisis is over.

Remote employees should not return to working in the office unless approved by the CEO or me.

Thank you for keeping all of us as safe as possible.

 

Additional Call / Text Resources:

Suffolk residents can text "covidsuffolk" to 67283 to receive the latest developments from Suffolk County Department of Health Services per Legislator Kara Hahn, or call 311.

The Empire Plan Resources

The Empire Plan provides a NurseLine which has registered nurses available to answer health-related questions/concerns 24/7.  The NurseLine can be reached by calling the NYSHIP phone number on the back of your insurance card: 1-877-769-7447 and choose option 5.

NEW- Remote Telehealth Services-If you are concerned about leaving your homes to receive medical care or therapy services, The Empire Plan will cover telehealth visits at no cost. See the attachment for additional information and step-by-step instructions to register. As you will see in the attachment, when booking an appointment, you will be asked for a credit card in order to move forward, however your card will NOT be charged as long as you use the coupon code below.  For additional assistance, call The Empire Plan at 1-877-7-NYSHIP (1-877-769-7447) and select option 2 for the Hospital Program.  

 

NYSLRS Disability Retirement- COVID-19

NYSLRS members who become seriously ill from the COVID-19 virus may wish to file for retirement in order to provide a continuing pension benefit to their beneficiary if they were to die, rather than the one-time in-service death benefit.

If this should become something an employee may need to consider, either they or Human Resources would need to file the disability retirement application. If an employee does not recover after applying, the disability retirement application would be effective upon death. If the member recovers, the disability retirement application can be withdrawn prior to approval.

Forms can be faxed to 518-474-3510 or 518-473-8190 or emailed directly to NYSLRS’ Disability Processing Unit at disprocessing@osc.ny.gov.  If Human Resources submits a disability retirement application on an employee’s behalf, the member or the member’s spouse, must file a Pension Payment Option Election Form to identify a beneficiary to receive the continuing benefit. The option election form must be notarized. An option election form cannot be filed by Human Resources.

For more information, visit the Disability Benefits Page (osc.ny.state.us/retire) on the NYSLRS website or call the NYSLRS Contact Center at 866-805-0990.

Eligible employees may also file for service retirement. However, a service retirement must be on file with NYSLRS at least 15 days prior to the retirement date, and a service retirement cannot be cancelled if the date of retirement has passed.

 

From the Desk of Kara Hahn, Deputy Presiding Officer, Suffolk County Legislator, Fifth District- 3/20/20

New York State has ordered all non-essential businesses to close on the evening of Sunday, March 22nd. Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and utilities are considered essential and will not have to close.

New York State has launched a new email system to provide daily updates about COVID-19. Additionally, Suffolk County has begun providing COVID-19 updates through SMS text messages.

To sign up, please visit: https://now.ny.gov/page/s/coronavirus-update to enroll in the State’s notification program and/or text COVIDSUFFOLK to 67283 to get updates texted to your mobile device from Suffolk County.

New York will implement a 90-day moratorium on evictions for residential and commercial tenants. We will do all we can to help those financially suffering because of the #COVID19 pandemic.

For assistance in finding child care please contact the Child Care Council of Suffolk hotline at 646-926-3784. We are prioritizing child care for essential workers, including health care workers, first responders, grocery and pharmacy employees and others who are critical to keep our essential supports operational. 

On Monday, all sit-down bars and restaurants, casinos, gyms and theaters were closed until further notice, with an allowance for sit-down establishments to provide takeout, grab-and-go and delivery during the period of this closure. On Thursday, all indoor portions of retail shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys were closed.

´╗┐Beginning Saturday, all barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing salons, nail salons, hair removal services and related personal care services will be closed and on Sunday, all remaining non-essential businesses are to be closed.

Grocery Retailer Senior Shopping Hours updates-March 20, 2020

Dollar General 8-9am-Daily

Stew Leonard 7:30-8:00am-Daily

Stop and Shop 6:30-7:30am-Dail

Uncle Giuseppe’s 7-8:00am-Daily

Giunta Meat Farm 6:30-7:30 M/W/F

Target 8-9am Wednesdays

´╗┐Walmart 6-7am Wednesdays

For Employees

New York State has directed ALL non-essential businesses to close by Sunday evening, and, if possible, for employees to work-from-home. Exemptions from the order will include shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions.

New York State has also approved legislation guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of novel coronavirus. According to a summary of the legislation:

  • Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million will provide job protection for the duration of the quarantine order and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.
  • Employers with 11-99 employees and employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of paid sick leave, job protection for the duration of the quarantine order, and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

Employers with 100 or more employees, as well as all public employers (regardless of number of employees), will provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and guarantee job protection for the duration of the quarantine order.

COVID-19 Testing

New York State has opened a Suffolk County Mobile testing site. Testing is BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. If you have symptoms and need to get checked, please call the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 to be screened over the phone.

Sign-up for SMART 911

Suffolk County is encouraging residents to sign up for SMART911, which allows individuals and families to provide critical medical information to 9-1-1 and first responders well in advance of any type of emergency situation.

The information provided in a Smart911 Safety Profile enables the County to know who is at the greatest risk in our community. We can provide individuals with critical updates based on their location and health history. Additionally, Smart911 gives allows our community the chance to be proactive by letting officials, emergency operators and first responders know what our residents needs are how best to provide services in a time

If you are in need of Emergency Services, the Suffolk County Police Department is requesting residents who dial 911 to disclose any and all health concerns or symptoms in order to help protect responding officers and emergency service workers.

Managing COVID-19 Related Stress and Anxiety

The disruption COVID-19 has had on society and the normal routines of our daily lives has been profound. If you are having issues dealing with the added stresses that are result of COVID-19, the CDC on its Manage Anxiety & Stress page, recommends:

  • Taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Taking care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Making time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connecting with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Guidelines for N95, P95 and R95 Masks

Messages from the CEO:

April 6, 2020

To all Employees:

A great deal of focus in our communications during the COVID-19 outbreak has been on workplace safety, the actions we’re all taking to protect our health and the health of our co-workers, whether it be through social distancing, working from home, working on spread out shifts, wiping down surfaces with disinfectant, washing our hands frequently or other measures.

But since the virus may, unfortunately, be found in many familiar places we all go to, such as delis and convenience stores, I want to place a particular emphasis today on taking actions to protect the health of your fellow employees through your choices about where you go on breaks during the workday. As health professionals have made clear this week, we are at or approaching the anticipated peak of the outbreak in New York. That means, as health professionals have also said this week, it is more important than ever to avoid locations where many people congregate, such as the businesses referenced above as well as supermarkets and pharmacies. This is the time we all have to be extremely vigilant about where we go.

So, it’s as good a time as any to brown bag your lunch. Or avoid that mid-morning coffee trip, or that irresistible egg sandwich. With a little luck, we’ll be back to frequenting our favorite spots very soon. But right now, skipping such places could be the difference between staying healthy or getting sick, and/or getting co-workers sick.

I hope you’ll follow this advice, and thanks as always for all your hard work in keeping our operations going.

Also, an update on the surgical masks referenced last week—we are still expecting delivery imminently and are developing a distribution plan, but in addition or instead, depending on your preference, you can also use your own face coveralls to help stop the spread of the virus, such as bandanas, scarves or tee shirts. Every bit helps. We ordered bandanas today, and will advise when they arrive for those who would like one.

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Please contact Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com with any questions concerning COVID-19 and the workplace.

April 3, 2020

COVID-19 Isolation Information SC Health

COVID-19 Quarantine Information from SC Health

Quarantine Guidance (updated April 2020)

To all Employees:

There’s been a tremendous national focus this week on the use of facial masks during the COVID-19 outbreak both as self-protection and to protect others around you. As such, I wanted to provide the latest information we have on the use of masks in the SCWA workplace.

First, to reiterate a point made earlier this week, we have on hand a supply of N95 and P95 masks that are being distributed to employees on an as-need basis, prioritized by the degree to which the employee is engaging with the public or contractors. You are free to contact Safety Supervisor Nick Swain about the availability of such masks, but please understand that we do not have sufficient supplies at this point to make them available to all office staff. For those who are using them, please reuse the masks in accordance with the guidance document that was distributed and is available on the employee portal.

We do have some very good news on the surgical mask front—Storeroom Manager Bill Martin has secured 20,000 masks that should be available by the middle of next week. These are considered to be disposable masks. These masks are primarily designed to protect other individuals, not the wearer. Surgical masks stop infected droplets coming from the wearer’s nose or mouth; they’re not designed to prevent the acquisition of the virus from others. And it is extremely important to note that the wearing of a surgical mask should not replace the need to practice social distancing; they are not needed if you’re working in an office and your co-workers are at least six feet away. However, we will distribute these masks to department heads as soon as they become available, and they will be available to any employee who requests them.

We will continue to adapt to any new directives or guidance coming from the federal, state or local governments regarding masks. As of today, there are still a wide range of opinions from health professionals on the efficacy of wearing masks by the general public to stop the spread of COVID-19. New York City is now urging anyone out in public to use a face coverall, meaning some means of protecting their face, preferably a scarf or homemade mask or bandanna (in order to ensure that health professionals have the official masks they need to perform their duties). Such initiatives may soon be the norm in Suffolk.

A couple other important points on other topics:

  • It is essential that all employees familiarize themselves with the guidance documents linked above regarding proper quarantine and isolation protocol. Please do not wait until you may be in a situation in which you’re asked or directed into quarantine. Knowing all the do’s and don’ts of properly quarantining or isolating will help you protect your family and your co-workers.

 

  • We have a new cleaning contractor in place, and we have verified with them that they are taking all possible precautions against the potential spread of COVID-19. Any cleaning employee that does not feel well will not be allowed in any SCWA office, and all of the cleaning contractors employees have been notified of this via signage in their offices and direct letters. They are also using gloves while working and disinfecting shared surfaces in all of our offices every night.

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Please contact Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com with any questions concerning COVID-19 and the workplace.

April 2, 2020

To all Employees:

We’ve been sending you a lot of information since the COVID-19 outbreak began, but there are a few points that are so vitally important to the health and safety of our employees and our ability to continue to supply a vital resource to our customers that they need to be repeated again and acted upon by all SCWA employees. Every single day, all day, no exceptions.

  • If you are feeling sick, you absolutely, positively need to stay home. Situations have come up in various offices in which employees are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and coming to work anyway. This has to stop. As noted in a bulletin earlier this week, any employee with significant enough symptoms to require a COVID-19 test as authorized by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services or in close contact with another individual experiencing symptoms will be given paid excused time until the test results are available.  If the employee or close contact is positive, the employee will receive paid excused time for a 14-day quarantine period. We are taking these steps—which are more generous than even the state is requiring—to protect the health of all SCWA employees. So if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone else who has, tell Human Resources immediately. And do the right thing by keeping away from the workplace until your health status has been cleared by health professionals.

 

  • If you are coming to work at an SCWA office, keep your distance from others. Despite all the warnings we all hear every day at the workplace and in the media, there are still a considerable number of SCWA employees not practicing social distancing from others. Health professionals have been crystal clear that one vital means of protecting your health during this outbreak is to keep at least six-feet away from others at all times. By making work-from-home arrangements for more than 100 employees and allowing shift changes to reduce the number of employees in a given place at the same time, we have made it far easier to maintain this practice. For everyone’s safety, please do your part and remain the appropriate distance from all other employees.

 

  • Wash your hands, with warm water and soap, frequently. We can’t say this enough—viruses such as COVID-19, according to health professionals, are transmitted through the mouth, nose and lungs, which are all examples of mucous membranes. Your hands are not mucous membranes, and viruses cannot penetrate unbroken skin. Viruses are broken down by soap and warm water, which is why it is so important to wash your hands frequently. The only way for a virus to be transmitted from a surface you touched is to subsequently touch your eyes, mouth or nose afterward. So washing your wands frequently, particularly before and after touching a shared surface, such as a doorknob, is essential in protecting you from COVID-19. Please refer to these resources for further information: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-basics

https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/health+topics/health+conditions+prevention+and+treatment/infectious+diseases/ways+infectious+diseases+spread

One additional point on this topic: It is ok until further notice to keep doors within offices propped open to avoid touching doorknobs when the doors are within a secure facility. To protect everyone’s security, do not prop open doors leading to an area accessible to the public.

Thank you for your hard work and your continued attention to these important safety precautions.

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Please contact Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com with any questions concerning COVID-19 and the workplace.

April 1, 2020

To all Employees:

As we all get used to our incredibly unusual “new normal,” I hope you’ve had time to reflect on the nature of the work you do and its importance to the lives of the 1.2 million people we serve. Everywhere around us, daily life has been impacted by COVID-19, perhaps even transformed. And yet one thing has not changed—we continue to provide a high quality and reliable drinking water supply, even in this, the most challenging of times.

Though we all have our minds on so many things right now, I hope you’re able to take a moment to take some satisfaction in your role in providing this vital resource. I know not a day has gone by when I haven’t marveled at the quick adaptation everyone has made to the blizzard of new protocols under which we are now operating. Like you all, I’m sure, I look forward to getting back to our usual operational procedures, whenever that becomes possible. But this situation has certainly provided a unique opportunity to see what we can do when it becomes necessary to keep pumping the water under the most trying circumstances.

On behalf of the Board, I greatly appreciate all the great work you’re doing as well as the observations you’ve made and questions you’ve posed since this ordeal began. Please continue to do so to the employees referenced below and we will continue to answer them.

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Please contact Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com with any questions concerning COVID-19 and the workplace.

March 31, 2020

To all Employees:

Empire Telehealth Virtual Appointment

I want to update you on a number of topics concerning the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • In order to ensure we are taking every possible precaution in protecting our employees, any employee experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and approved by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to take a COVID-19 test or an employee in close contact with someone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and taking a COVID-19 test will be given paid excused time until test results are available. The employee will be required to provide the name and relationship of the individual approved to take the COVID-19 test if other than themselves.  If the employee or the close contact tests positive, the employee will receive paid excused time for a 14-day quarantine period, beginning from the date on which a doctor or the SCDHS indicates that symptoms began. If the employee or close contact tests negative, the employee will be required to return to work immediately. Please note that this policy pertains strictly to situations involving COVID-19. This  policy will help ensure that employees who feel they may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or are in close contact with someone else who does will stay home and therefore protect the health of other SCWA employees.

 

  • We’re very encouraged by reports we’re getting of employees showing symptoms of sickness and deciding to stay home, as we’ve strongly encouraged. However, when you are in such a situation, please make clear to your supervisor if you are staying home due to symptoms associated with COVID-19. This will allow us to take the any necessary precautionary measures to protect other SCWA employees. (A series of standard questions are being developed to help supervisors interact with employees to obtain accurate and consistent information in such situations).

 

  • As noted yesterday, we are distributing N95 and P95 masks to employees in the field on an as-needed basis, prioritizing field employees who regularly interact with the public. We do not have enough masks to provide them to any employee who would like one at this time, but are actively seeking additional masks. For those who do have masks, please follow the guidelines distributed yesterday on how to properly care for the masks so they are suitable for reuse.

 

  • Some of you have asked about SCWA protocol regarding employees returning to the workforce after a period of quarantine pertaining to the COVID-19 virus. Once an individual has undertaken a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, he or she is considered to be safe to return to work so long as the employee has secured the approval of the SCDHS to do so.

 

  • We encourage you to please take advantage of the Empire Plan’s telehealth benefit, through which you can access health services remotely. LiveHealth Online provides access to a video visit with a board-certified doctor or licensed therapist right from your smartphone, tablet or personal computer. Please see the attached guide to register. When booking an appointment, you will be asked for a credit card in order to move forward, but your card will not be charged as long as you use this coupon code: NYSHIP. For additional assistance, call The Empire Plan at 1-877-7-NYSHIP (1-877-769-7447) and select option 2 for the Hospital Program.

 

  • Labels for the chlorine solution developed by Production Control to disinfect hard surfaces (other than computer equipment) are being circulated to all offices today. If you have a bottle of the solution, please affix one of the labels to it, so it is readily identified as 3% CL2 solution. We are currently seeking small plastic bottles to use for the NYS Clean hand sanitizer obtained by the Emergency Services Office over the weekend. Once bottles have been secured, we will fill and label them and distribute them to all offices. In the meantime, if you have empty sanitizer bottles you would like refilled, you can call Storeroom Manager Bill Martin and make arrangements to have your bottles filled.
  • It is essential for all employees to practice what are now the familiar measures to help ensure the safety of everyone—maintaining at least a six-foot physical distance between yourself and others; washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using sanitizer; wiping down shared surfaces with disinfectant; refraining from touching your face. This protocol is even more important when employees choose to go to areas in which members of the public congregate, such as delis and convenience stores. Please follow the practices for everyone’s safety.

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Please contact Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com with any questions concerning COVID-19 and the workplace.

March 30, 2020

To all Employees:

I’m pleased to let you know that our request for additional emergency supplies from Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services has been successful—our Emergency Management Office picked up the additional supplies on Saturday. Among the supplies are 12 gallons of the new NYS Clean 75% alcohol hand sanitizer. We are in the process of working on the logistics of making the sanitizer available in smaller bottles for employee use and affixing the bottles with labels resembling the official state label. This will distinguish the hand sanitizer from the disinfecting chlorine solution developed by Production Control for use on hard surfaces (this product, too, will have its own label, which you should start seeing in the next couple of days. This should be used to sanitize tables, doorknobs, railings and steering wheels, but not on clothing or computer supplies or hands. It is indicated on the front label that the product is made of 3% CL2 solution).

We also received 30 boxes of surgical gloves and a supply of N95 masks that, along with the P95 masks we already had on hand, will be distributed to employees on an as-needed basis. For those of you who will be using the masks, I am attaching a guide developed by SCWA with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to show you how to properly and safely reuse the masks (with supplies still very tight, all employees should reuse their masks unless they need to be discarded in accordance with the guidelines linked HERE).

Please direct any questions about the masks or gloves to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com and any questions about the disinfectant spray or hand sanitizer to Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Please contact Donna Mancuso with any questions concerning COVID-19 and the workplace.

March 27, 2020

To all Employees:

I’m writing to keep you apprised of the latest developments regarding SCWA employees connected to the COVID-19 virus and actions that have been taken to address each situation.

A Facilities employee alerted us this morning that she has tested positive for COVID-19. She was tested for COVID-19 as she was not feeling well on Wednesday, March 25. The employee was last in the office on Tuesday, March 24. She indicated that she had limited interaction with anyone else in the building and has been keeping the recommended six-foot distance from others at all times.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services has indicated that since the employees was not exhibiting any symptoms when at work on Tuesday, and since she kept a six-foot distance between herself and others in the building, a precautionary quarantine is not necessary for other employees in the building. All surfaces have been wiped down with disinfectant.

An employee of the Customer Service Call Center has a son-in-law who has tested positive for COVID-19. Her daughter is currently experiencing symptoms and is considered an “A” contact since they all live together (I’ve again attached above the NYSDOH’s COVID-19 contacts guide for your reference). The SCWA employee is currently not experiencing symptoms. At this time she is considered a “B” in the contacts guide. If you were working in the Call Center over the past eight days, you are considered a “C” and no action is necessary at this time. If the employee begins to develop symptoms or is tested and receives a positive result, we will consult with the SCDHS for guidance on any further actions that may be required. I will be sure to keep you apprised of any developments.

A Purchasing employee reported that a daughter who lives with her has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee has been alternating between working from home and working at the office. Her last day in the office was March 25, when she worked for three hours in the morning. She received the news about her daughter that afternoon. She reported having a headache, but no other symptoms at this time. She has been in touch with the SCDHS and is waiting for an appointment for a test. She also indicated that she has been keeping the proper physical distance from all employees and worked at her desk most of the time she was in the office. Fellow employees subsequently disinfected all shared surfaces.

All Purchasing employees have been told to work from home until we receive further results. All employees of the Technical Services building are considered “C” contacts in the attached guidance document; there is no need for them to quarantine at this time. If the employee tests positive or becomes symptomatic, we will be contacted and receive guidance from the SCDHS as to how to proceed.

As a reminder, please make sure to keep at least a six-foot distance between you and others at all times, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, wipe down your office space and/or company vehicles with disinfectant daily and, most importantly, please for the sake of the health of all SCWA employees, do not come to work if you feel sick.

Please know that Facilities is working with our new cleaning contractor, who starts this weekend, to sanitize each of these three buildings—the Technical Services, the Customer Service Coram and the Facilities building. This is not a recommendation of the health department, but is being undertaken out of an abundance of caution to do everything possible to protect the health of SCWA employees.

If you have any questions about any of the situations above, or if you yourself begin to experience symptoms of COVID-19, please contact Human Resources.

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Questions pertaining to work-from-home arrangements should be directed to Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com.

March 25, 2020

To all Employees:

CDC - Resources for Households

A few important issues I wanted to bring to your attention today:

  • It is critically important during this emergency period that we all reassure the public that their water is perfectly safe to drink. As noted in prior bulletins, SCWA treats the drinking water supply with trace amounts of chlorine at our pump stations to prevent the growth of pathogens such as the COVID-19 virus. We are all, every one of us, responsible for making sure the public understands this. Everyone has enough to worry about without having to unnecessarily worry about their drinking water supply or unnecessarily stock up on bottled water.
  • You’ve heard this before, but it can’t be stressed enough: Every employee should endeavor to wipe down their desks, computers, phones and doorknobs on a daily basis with disinfectant wipes. Field staff has been provided with the disinfectant solution prepared by Production Control and should be wiping down their dashboards, steering wheels and door handles at the beginning and end of shifts or whenever else it may be necessary. It is essential that we all do our part to help protect the health of all SCWA employees. Specific guidance on steps to follow to properly disinfect surfaces is attached in the document above.
  • To reiterate: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health officials have made it clear that disinfectant wipes and chlorine/water solution will thoroughly disinfect the surfaces referenced above. A professional cleaning is not necessary to ensure worker safety.
  • If during the course of the outbreak you are stopped in your vehicle and asked why you are not home, please show them your SCWA identification badge and let the officer know that you work for a company providing an essential service. Please let us know if you encounter any difficulty in getting to work.
  • Critical guidance documents on a wide variety of COVID-19 related topics are now featured prominently on the employee portal. Please use this tremendous resource.
  • In regard to your personal health, please make sure to let Human Resources know if you are not feeling well. For everyone’s well-being, it is essential that we are all communicative about the state of our health, particularly if any of us are experiencing symptoms associated with the virus, such as fever, shortness of breath or a cough.
  • Some important information I want to pass on from the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles: all licenses, non-driver IDs and registrations with an expiration date of March 1, 2020 or later have been extended and all DMV offices are closed and road tests suspended until further notice. So if you have a license that is about to expire and had been concerned about the potential ramifications on your ability to drive to and from work or at work, it is not an issue.
  • As noted by Benefits Specialist Nora Cairo yesterday, please know that there are tremendous resources available to you during this very stressful time.  To access our work/life assistance program, CCA@YourService, 24 hours a day, call 1-800-833-8707 or log onto the website myccaonline.com (the web ID is SCWA). Webinars on relevant topics are also held every week. You can register for individual webinars at the below links:

PARENTING DURING COVID-19 – MARCH 26 @ 11am
PARENTING DURING COVID-19 – MARCH 30 @3pm
WORKING REMOTELY – MARCH 31 @ 2pm
STRESS MANAGEMENT – APRIL 1 @ 10:30am
WORKING REMOTELY – APRIL 1 @ 2pm
STRESS MANAGEMENT – APRIL 2 @ 3pm
WORKING REMOTELY – APRIL 3 @ 11am

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Questions pertaining to work-from-home arrangements should be directed to Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com

March 24, 2020

To all Employees:

Though we’re all enduring extremely difficult circumstances in managing our work duties and family responsibilities while also adapting to new routines to avoid the virus that has upended our lives, one positive aspect of this situation is the creativity and resilience being displayed by SCWA employees throughout our company.

For instance, a bunch of innovative employees joined together to come up with and put into motion a clever—well, solution. The solution in this case is 44 ounces of 15% strength chlorine used at our pump stations to prevent bacterial growth in our water supply diluted with 55 gallons of water. The result? A handy, self-made disinfectant product available for your use (see photo below) in spray bottles we had on hand in Stores to disinfect hard surfaces, including doorknobs, railings, tables and steering wheels (but not to be used on computer equipment, clothes or carpets).

cleaning_solution

As of today, nearly 50 bottles had been distributed to employees with another batch ready to go out. Ten five-gallon jugs have also been provided to various locations to refill empty spray bottles. The solution is being manufactured at the Coram, Westhampton and Bay Shore offices.

This clever and extremely practical idea came from Emergency Managers Phil Thompson and Rich Bova. Phil and Control Center Supervisor Andrew Donnelly coordinated manufacture of the product in conjunction with Production Control. In addition to those three, Bob Cataldo, Chris Dervin, Rob Krudop, Kris Zimmer, AJ Clare, Paul Kondracki and Chris Niebling played various roles in planning, manufacturing, figuring mixture strength and distribution.

There’s even a label for our in-house product in development. More on that in the coming days. For now, if your office or work station would like a bottle, please contact Andrew Donnelly in the Bay Shore office, AJ Clare at Coram or Kris Zimmer in Westhampton.

We have also, as you probably know, been very creative in enabling approximately 100 employees to work from home to help employees address child care needs and to decrease the number of employees in any given office to encourage social distancing. I’m proud to announce that early returns from the Call Center have indicated that staff members have been able to keep levels of productivity in addressing customer calls at the same level they produce in the office. This is very gratifying to hear.

Reports are also positive from other departments utilizing work-from-home arrangements, and shift changes to allow employees more flexibility in the hours they work have not only proven to be effective, but have helped to protect employee health by freeing up vehicles for individual use, rather than sending employees out two-to-a-vehicle. I want to thank you all for efforts in making these arrangements work out, with a special thank you to IT for all they’ve done if facilitating work-from-home arrangements. Your efforts have helped us to both protect the health of our employees and keep the water flowing to our customers.

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Questions pertaining to work-from-home arrangements should be directed to Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com.

March 23, 2020

To all Employees:

We are all experiencing an unprecedented situation with the COVID-19 outbreak and the scenarios that may arise in terms of personal contact with others. But to keep this as simple as possible, I want to reiterate the points made in the guidance document from the New York State Department of Health attached above and distributed to you last week. Please make sure you are familiar with the guidance document’s contents, as it provides key information that may prove beneficial if you encounter such a situation in your workplace.

View the Guidance Document here

As the document notes: “If an asymptomatic employee calls their supervisor and notifies them that they are required to stay home in quarantine because they were a contact of a confirmed case, the contacts they had at work are considered ‘contacts of a contact’ and therefore not at risk. These ‘contacts of a contact’ are not required to be in quarantine and should be permitted to continue to work, following recommendations for social distancing as appropriate.”

This scenario applies for as long as the employee who had been a contact of a confirmed case remains asymptomatic for COVID-19.

We are receiving guidance from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services on a daily basis, and will continue to update you on any new important information. We all need to rely on health professionals for their expertise on this matter. Please, for the sake of everyone’s health and safety, follow the guidelines provided and do not spread any information that is not from an official source.

Thank you for your cooperation and for continuing to ensure that our customers have a safe and reliable drinking water supply.

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Questions pertaining to work-from-home arrangements should be directed to Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com.

March 23, 2020

To all Employees:

In regard to the message I sent to you on Friday, we have learned that the Construction/Maintenance employee exposed to the COVID-19 virus through a domestic partner has been confirmed as positive for the virus. As noted on Friday, the employee and all other employees with whom he had contact during recent shifts are now in mandatory quarantine for a period of 14 days. And to reiterate what I wrote on Friday, all trucks utilized by the employee and those in quarantine have been cleaned and sanitized professionally out of an abundance of caution.

I contacted all of those in quarantine, including the employee who tested positive. All have been given guidance offered by the New York State Department of Health about mandatory quarantine, what to do and what not to do.  All are in good spirits and are trying to follow the guidelines, which include not leaving their property; sleeping alone; keeping a log of everyone they have been in contact with in the period leading up to the quarantine; and understanding that they are not currently eligible to take a test for COVID-19 unless they begin to show symptoms (fortunately, to my knowledge, none others have, to date).

We have taken every possible necessary and recommended precaution to protect the health of the employee and all SCWA employees, and we are now awaiting further instruction from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services regarding any further needed steps. 

Let's all continue to diligently take all possible measures to keep everyone safe, including staying home if you feel sick, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as a fever, shortness of breath or a cough; washing hands thoroughly with soap frequently; and maintaining a six-foot distance from others whenever possible.

The adaptations you have all made in the past two weeks to adjust to our new reality are incredible. On behalf of the Board, I want you to know how proud we are of all you are doing to make sure a safe and reliable drinking water supply continues to be delivered to all of our customers.

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Questions pertaining to work-from-home arrangements should be directed to Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com

March 20, 2020

Below are responses to two other important questions that came in this afternoon:

I understand that there are aspects of SCWA that are essential. Who determines that all of the employees are considered essential?

Governor Cuomo today signed an executive order mandating that 100% of the workforce must stay home until further notice, beginning this Sunday evening, exempting essential services. Listed among the exempted essential services are utilities, which confirms our position that all SCWA employees are considered essential. The governor’s statement also mirrors guidance provided yesterday by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which, in a document entitled “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” lists water suppliers as among those essential to continued critical infrastructure viability.

You can view information about Governor Cuomo’s announcement at this link: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home.

The Department of Homeland Security’s guidance document on essential services is available here: https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce.

 

In regard to the new state law, will SCWA pay the employees up front and be reimbursed by the state? If so, will we be handling this with a tracking number, similar to how we handle FEMA emergency expenses? Is there any paperwork required to be completed by the employee?

Yes, SCWA will pick up the up-front cost of any accruals covered by the new law with the expectation of being reimbursed by the state. The law covers those employees who are directed by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to quarantine. Such employees are entitled to excused days with pay for the duration of the quarantine period. To be clear, the law does not cover employees who have asked to work from home or employees who have childcare issues and have chosen to stay home. It also does not cover employees who are sick with a cold, flu or potentially COVID-19 virus and stay home by choice. If, however, such employees test positive for COVID-19 and as a result are directed by health authorities to quarantine, they would be covered by the law.

We are currently developing new codes within SAP and Time Clock Plus to track time taken off due to COVID-19 so that if it is ultimately determined that we are entitled to reimbursement, we will have records to provide to the appropriate agencies.

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Questions pertaining to work-from-home arrangements should be directed to Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com.

March 20, 2020

To all Employees:

A few key points I want to emphasize this afternoon:

  • Please make use of the employee portal during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Here, in one place, you can find everything you need to know about the situation and how it relates to SCWA, including: all of the update messages that have been sent to date; video updates (one to date, but more to come); a PowerPoint presentation outlining all temporary SCWA policies enacted during the crisis;  and vital forms, including the one you need to apply for work-from-home arrangements.

 

  • The shortage of paper consumers are experiencing in the stores applies to us here at SCWA, too. If using a restroom facility that has an electric hand dryer, please use it instead of wasting paper towels. This will help a great deal in conserving paper products.

 

  • Employees with access to SCWA vehicles have been instructed on proper cleaning procedures when driving our vehicles, including wearing gloves and disinfecting door handles, steering wheels and dashboards. It is absolutely essential that all employees wipe down with disinfectant any vehicle they used while on duty before turning the vehicle in at the end of a shift.

 

  • Production Control is preparing our own disinfectant supply and it should be ready for distribution this afternoon. The solution, which will be loaded into on-hand spray bottles and refilling jugs, will consist of 1/3rd of a gallon of chlorine mixed with enough water to fill a 55-gallon drum. The solution will stain, so is only appropriate for use on hard surfaces, such as steering wheels, doorknobs, railings and desktops. It should not be used on clothes or carpets.  

 

Thank you for your cooperation.

If you have any questions of a general nature pertaining to COVID-19 and SCWA protocol that you would like answered either directly or in an all employee bulletin, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com. Workplace safety-related inquiries should be directed to Nicholas Swain at nicholas.swain@scwa.com. Questions pertaining to work-from-home arrangements should be directed to Donna Mancuso at donna.mancuso@scwa.com.

March 20, 2020

To all Employees:

We have encountered our first direct contact with the COVID-19 virus and so I want to apprise you of the situation and what we’re doing about it.

Yesterday, we were notified that the domestic partner of a utility employee working out of our Oakdale Construction/Maintenance office tested positive for COVID-19. The employee was tested for the virus yesterday and we are awaiting results of the test from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (they expect to have the results within the next two days).

The employee started noticing symptoms identified with COVID-19 on Wednesday, March 11. He continued to work until Saturday, March 14. He has not been to work since.

After a consultation with the health department, it was determined that nine C/M employees with whom the employee had been in contact during the relevant time period would be directed to self-quarantine for 14 days, and they are now doing so. (In accordance with the new state law referenced in yesterday’s message, they will not be charged any accruals during the quarantine period).

Once we have the results of the employee’s test, nurse practitioners from the health department will conduct any further investigation that may be necessary to protect the health of SCWA employees and the general public health. In the meantime, all trucks and equipment utilized by the employee and those in quarantine are being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. (We are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution; the health commissioner has said that standard bleach and water is sufficient to disinfect a potentially impacted area).

I want to reiterate the importance of staying home if you are feeling sick and have symptoms identified with the COVID-19 virus, such as a fever or shortness of breath. It is critically important that we all every day take measures to protect our health and the health of everyone around us. We provide an essential service for 1.2 million Suffolk residents, and we need to make sure we stay strong, healthy and able to continue to provide a safe and reliable water supply.

I want to emphasize also that we are all in this together. We can be conscious of our safety while at the same time doing everything we can to support each other. This is a time like no other in SCWA history; let’s do everything we can to be a unified workforce undertaking a shared, albeit very unusual, experience.

If you have any questions about this situation of anything else related to COVID-19, please email Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com.

March 19, 2020

To all Employees:

I want to bring to your attention an important question that came in today and the answer to it:

As I understand it, the federal coronavirus bill called for 2 week sick pay for those who have to be quarantined if necessary. Can this be used instead of sick/vacation time if a SCWA employee has to be quarantined? What about the New York State law which gives the same to State workers? As a Public Utility Company can we qualify as State workers? We do belong to the State Retirement System.

The New York State law, which was signed by Governor Cuomo yesterday, does indeed cover SCWA workers. What this means is, effective immediately, if you are on a mandatory quarantine due to COVID-19, SCWA will provide you with at least 14 days of excused time with pay. The amount of excused time will not exceed your quarantine period and only be granted for your work days.

March 18, 2020

To all Employees:

A quick update on a couple of issues:

  • The front counter at the Coram Customer Service center will be closed to the public beginning tomorrow until further notice. A sign is going up today alerting customers that they may still pay their bill via scwa.com or by using our automated payment system.

 

  • Field personnel beginning most likely tomorrow will have card access to all buildings for the purpose of accessing the restrooms.

 

Below are answers to several more questions that have come in since yesterday’s bulletin:

With schools closed, parents without childcare may need to be home with their children. While I am 100% open, willing and capable of working from home, I was advised that may not be possible due to SCWA system inability. If true, this will lead to parents staying out of work for an extended period of time. Due to this, are we able to apply for family medical leave act to care for our loved ones during this epidemic? 

There is no “system inability” preventing work-from-home arrangements; SCWA has put into place procedures to allow as many employees as possible to work from home and our IT staff will be available to support employee tech needs that arise from this initiative.

Current FMLA policy from the federal government covers serious medical conditions requiring hospitalization or on-going care from a healthcare provider. If someone tests positive for COVID-19 but has mild symptoms, they will be directed to stay home by their healthcare provider but will likely recuperate without additional medical care. Staying home due to childcare issues is not covered under the current FMLA regulation. However, if the federal government or state government makes changes that apply to us, we will adjust.

 

What is SCWA policy for employees who have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus but are not showing any symptoms?

SCWA is following the New York State Department of Health guidelines for such situations, as outlined in the pamphlet distributed with yesterday’s briefing: “If an asymptomatic employee calls their supervisor and notifies them that they are required to stay home in quarantine because they were a contact of a confirmed case, the contacts they had at work are considered ‘contacts of a contact’ and therefore not at risk. These ‘contacts of a contact’ are not required to be in quarantine and should be permitted to continue to work, following recommendations for social distancing as appropriate.”

With one exception: notifications should be made to Human Resources, not your supervisor.

 

I’ve noticed that, in an obvious well-meaning attempt to prevent many hands from touching doorknobs, some doors at our facility have been propped open, which could lead to security issues. Has the propping open of doors been sanctioned? What is SCWA policy in this regard?

Doors at all SCWA facilities should remain closed for security purposes. Please continue to make sure that you wash your hands frequently, particularly before and after touching a doorknob, to help ensure the health of all SCWA employees.

 

We encourage you to continue to share with us any questions you have about this unfolding situation. Please continue to submit questions to Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com.

March 18, 2020

Good Morning -

In response to concerns regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, SCWA is enacting the following temporary policy, effective immediately until further notice:

SCWA Union Employees presently working any Monday-Friday shift between the hours of 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM are not required to punch-in / punch-out using TimeClock Plus.  Employees must report to work at their regularly scheduled start-times and notify a supervisor they are present and ready to work.  Employees should avoid congregating in large groups and are directed to begin regular work duties as quickly as possible.  Employees must adhere to their regularly-scheduled leave times, and must inform their supervisor of departure.  This temporary policy does not apply to those working night or weekend shifts, only M-F, 8AM-5PM shifts.

March 17, 2020

To all Employees:

A number of excellent new questions about SCWA protocol during the COVID-19 outbreak have come in since yesterday’s update, and many of them (coincidentally) related to a topic that senior staff has been working diligently on this week: a workable policy that will allow as many employees as possible to work from home while still allowing us to maintain the continuity of our vital operations.

We expect to have a work-from-home policy in place by tomorrow, and we will provide the complete details about the new policy as soon as it is finalized. In the meantime, below are the responses to your latest questions, including those referencing work-from-home situations.

 

If one of the crew members you work with has tested positive for COVID-19, will we be notified? And does the whole crew that has been exposed go into quarantine for 14 days?  Also, is anyone monitoring crews as to who is working with who? Construction/Maintenance crews change every day and symptoms take between two and 12 days to surface.

Yes, you would absolutely be notified, and yes, the whole crew would  likely need to be quarantined. In that situation, we would need to retrace our steps and determine who was a part of any crew that the positive-testing employee worked on.

The New York State Department of Health officers guidance on when a quarantine is needed that may help you envision a scenario relevant to your work situation: Person A is diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. If Person B had close or proximate contact with Person A, Person B would be subject to mandatory quarantine. However, Person C, who is a contact of Person B, is NOT at risk of infection and not subject to quarantine unless Person B develops COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive for the virus.

 

Governor Cuomo mandated that all town governments reduce their non-essential employees by at least 50% by working from home.  We are not a town government, but is SCWA considering non-essential employees the option of work from home?  I don’t think any type of group setting is smart right now.

Yes, as noted above, such a policy should be in place by tomorrow.

 

What are our options as employees if co-workers continue to come to work sick/coughing and are not sent home?

It’s important to keep in mind that not every cough or sneeze from a fellow employee indicates that the employee has COVID-19; they could very well have allergies or a common cold. However, in the interest of protecting everyone’s health, if you feel that a fellow employee may have symptoms of COVID-19, you can report your observations to Human Resources and that office will initiate the appropriate steps to determine whether a health safety issue exists.

I also want to reiterate that we strongly, strongly encourage employees to follow the social distancing guidelines health professionals are recommending, both at the workplace and elsewhere. Try to avoid congregating with other employees whenever possible. Don’t spend time in a crowded shape up room; instead, get to your truck as soon as possible and your supervisor will come to you to assign work. Use common sense strategies to protect your health and the health of your co-workers.

 

Although I believe that we all play an essential role here at SCWA,  who are really considered to be “essential employees”  in the event that there is a mandatory shutdown, as in Italy?

While we consider all SCWA employees to be essential, in the spirit of the cooperation with Governor Cuomo’s request (referenced above), we are going to have as many employees as possible work from home to help protect public health.

 

What are the IT requirements for working remotely?

This will be covered in the upcoming work-from-home policy, but in general terms, you will likely need to use your own computer and have internet connectivity. Our IT department will be available to provide support as you set up a telework station.

 

I’m concerned about getting sick from using the Time Clock Plus swipe/keypad that is being used by so many employees. Is there anything that can be done about that?

We encourage you to wash you hands after swiping in.

 

We encourage you to continue to share with us any questions you have about this unfolding situation. Please continue to submit questions to Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com.

March 13, 2020

To all Employees:

Below are the answers to the questions you’ve asked since yesterday morning about the COVID-19 virus and SCWA protocol during the outbreak. Please note that the questions you submitted may have been edited for clarity and/or combined with other similar questions from other employees.

I hope this is helpful and please feel free to send any additional questions to Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com.

Please post this message for those without email accounts.

 

Has it been discussed how to handle our business in the event of widespread school closures? I’m sure there are a lot of employees with young children in school that will have a hard time coming to work because they will not have child care.

Yes. We are currently developing a procedure for employees, both management and union, to request a shift change during the COVID-19 outbreak to allow employees, whenever possible, to change their work hours that allow them to look after their children in the event of school closures.   An HR form will be available for employees to request a shift change, likely by this afternoon.  Please note that a request will only be granted if it specifically pertains to the virus and when it does not impact our ability to ensure the continuity of our vital operations.

This plan would have the additional benefit of limiting the number the employees in a given office at a given time, which in and of itself will help to protect the safety of our workforce.

 

When a person comes into work sick, not knowing if it’s a just a common cold, allergies or COVID-19, will they be either mandated to go home or mandated to stay at work?  

If an employee is sick, they should stay home, particularly if he or she has symptoms associated with the virus, such as a fever, shortness of breath or cough. If a supervisor has reason to feel that an employee has such symptoms, the supervisor may tell the employee to go home for the safety of other employees. As to the second point, no, there is no circumstance in which an employee would be directed to stay if he or she is sick.

 

If an employee is sick, will he or she be required to see a doctor and bring in a doctor’s note certifying that the person does not have the coronavirus or flu? 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other medical professionals have asked citizens to be mindful of not overwhelming already overtaxed medical staff. With that in mind, there is no requirement that an employee bring in note certifying they do not have the virus. However, if an employee does have the virus, he or she will need to be cleared by a doctor to return to work.

 

Will the Water Authority implement a policy and infrastructure to allow employees to work from home in order to ensure public safety? I understand this is not a solution for all employees but it will be for anyone working in an office.

We have been evaluating the feasibility of this for weeks. We provide an essential product that sustains human life, so we need to do everything we can to ensure as many of our employees as possible are working. If it becomes necessary to do so, we expect that we’ll allow employees to work from home where possible. We are already in the process of testing out work-from-home scenarios.

 

What is the Authority’s position on employees who have been out of the country or even traveled within the country recently as to their return to work? 

SCWA supervisors do not have the authority to ask employees about recent travel. However, for the safety of all, we encourage employees to voluntarily alert Human Resources about recent travel if they feel it’s relevant.

 

If an employee were to contract the virus and must stay home for any length of time, will the Water Authority require us to use our own time?

Yes, employees will be required to use their accruals.

 

If someone is mandated to stay home for two weeks, but doesn’t have the sick/vacation time to do so will the Water Authority provide the sick time to cover them?

No, but the federal government is reportedly contemplating stimulus legislation that may include such measures. It’s simply too early to say what provisions any stimulus package may or may not include.

 

Should we not allow customers in to use our restrooms since they can’t come into the office? 

Customers are only allowed to use bathrooms that do not require entrance into a secured area. This means customers may use the bathroom in the common area of the Coram building in front of the counter. SCWA is renting portable toilets and placing them at PC Bayshore, Oakdale, and Westhampton. They will be placed near the location used by delivery companies to deliver goods to SCWA, such as chlorine, lime or pipe fittings so that delivery people don’t need to use a SCWA bathroom.

 

To avoid everyone getting sick at the same time, can we try having as many employees as possible not come into the offices at all? By utilizing Clevest, we can just work out of our trucks with our computers.

We’re not going to ask employees to not come into offices at all, but we strongly advise  employees to avoid congregating in breakout rooms or other work stations whenever possible and, if you are a field worker, to get into vehicles and out into the field as soon as possible.

 

Are the cleaning people wiping down doorknobs and surfaces with disinfectant?

Yes. Cleaning staff have been advised that we require them to pay special attention to the doorknobs and frequently touched surfaces and to wipe them down each night with disinfectant. But we also encourage all employees to keep their own work spaces disinfected in order to help protect the health of all SCWA employees. We are also using our best judgement in providing disinfectant supplies to office and field staff while ensuring that our supplies last as long as possible until supply keeps up with demand.

 

At what point should someone decide to stay home? For instance, I felt a little under the weather the past few days and had a few symptoms of sickness.

If you feel sick, you should not come to work, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms the CDC has indicated are associated with the virus, such as fever, shortness of breath or a cough.

 

If the most common form of infection from COVID-19 is from respiratory droplets spread by a person’s cough or sneeze, why does the CDC not recommend wearing a facemask to protect from COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases?

Here’s how one health expert, Dr. Payal Kohli, answered this question for a news station in Denver: “Surgical masks are not recommended at this time by the CDC to prevent transmission of coronavirus. This is because surgical masks, which are largely ineffective in preventing transmission of COVID-19, are relatively loose-fitting and only protect from large respiratory droplets. They are not effective in filtering or protecting against small respiratory droplets that can carry coronavirus and cause infection. Some experts believe that the masks may actually increase the risk of transmission due to improper use, more frequent touching of your face to reposition the mask and a false sense of security of protection, making it less likely that you would wash your hands.”

 

What medication is prescribed for an infected person?

According to the CDC, there is no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19, so treatment currently consists of supportive care to help relieve symptoms and, for severe cases, care to support vital organs.

 

If you have no symptoms of COVID-19, should you get tested as a precautionary measure? If so, is the test covered by our Empire Plan? Do most doctors have testing supplies? Should we have children tested as well?  

If there’s a medical reason for a doctor to request the COVID-19 test, then absolutely SCWA health insurance will cover it. The other questions are more appropriately handled by health professionals. Employees are encouraged to go to www.cdc.gov. The site has comprehensive information, including commonly asked questions, about COVID-19.

 

If an employee in the office you work in is confirmed with COVID-19, will all employees they work with be quarantined? And if so, will quarantined employees be asked to use their own accruals, or will they receive their salary without having to use accrued time?

Any employee confirmed with COVID-19 will be referred to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, which will make a determination as to what subsequent steps should be taken to protect the health of other employees. Presently, any employee that may need to be quarantined would be required to use their own accruals, unless funding to cover such employees is approved by the federal or state government.

 

If someone who works here, or a spouse, or friend, or acquaintance comes in contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19, what should they do?

Report it to Human Resources. It will be referred to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services for a determination as to how to proceed.

 

Can COVID-19 traverse our distribution system and if so, what methods are in place that eliminate the threat?

No. SCWA water is disinfected with chlorine at pump stations, and a virus such as COVID-19 would not survive the disinfection process.

 

Will SCWA have a COVID-19 testing clinic on site for employees, if/when it becomes available?

We do not at this point expect to host an onsite testing clinic for the virus.

 

Will SCWA have a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on site for employees, if/when it becomes available?

No. We anticipate we will rely on guidance from the New York State Department of Health and Suffolk County Department of Health Services regarding proper vaccination protocol.

 

If an employee becomes ill, does SCWA have a plan to sanitize the site where they work?

Yes, we will absolutely sanitize work sites at which an employee has become ill from COVID-19.

 

Is there a “shelter in place” plan for SCWA employees should it become necessary to keep staff on site?

We do have cots, blankets and towels in place for such a contingency, but in such an outbreak as this, health officials would likely be more inclined to have employees isolate from other employees at their homes rather than congregate at a work site overnight.

March 12, 2020

To all Employees:

Over the past few days the Suffolk County Water Authority has initiated a number of temporary protocol measures designed to help protect both our employees and our customers from the further spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19. As these measures are unprecedented in our organization and were necessarily put into motion quickly, we understand that you may have questions about them. As such, I encourage you to submit any question you have about these protocols or any other aspect of the COVID-19 situation by noon on Friday and we will prepare responses to your questions and distribute the questions and answers to all SCWA employees prior to the weekend. (You of course may continue to submit questions any time after that deadline for an individual response as well). 

Management staff - Please post this message for those without email accounts.

Please submit all questions either via email to Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com or by voicemail to extension 2396.

Thank you for all your hard work and dedication during this challenging time.

Messages from Human Resources

April 3, 2020

UPDATE- DISABILITY RETIREMENT-COVID-19

Many of you have inquired about the requirements for a disability retirement, should the need arise as a result of the COVID-19 virus.  I have been in contact with the NYS Employees’ Retirement System’s (NYSLRS) employer units and disability unit and they have confirmed the following as it relates to contracting COVID-19:

  • A member must have 10 years of service credit at the time of filing, in most cases (some exceptions for Tier 3)
  • There is no age requirement

For more information, visit the Disability Benefits Page (osc.ny.state.us/retire) on the NYSLRS website or call the NYSLRS Contact Center at 866-805-0990.

This announcement and the associated forms will be updated on the Employee Portal.

Stay well and have a great weekend!

-Nora Cairo

April 2, 2020

DISABILITY RETIREMENT- COVID-19

The unfortunate reality of the current COVID-19 emergency is that some employees (NYSLRS members) may become seriously, or even fatally ill. At a time like this, it is vitally important that all employees understand how to apply for retirement, should that step become necessary. Here is some guidance:

NYSLRS members who become seriously ill from the COVID-19 virus may wish to file for retirement in order to provide a continuing pension benefit to their beneficiary if they were to die, rather than the one-time in-service death benefit.

If this should become something an employee may need to consider, either they or Human Resources would need to file the disability retirement application. If an employee does not recover after applying, the disability retirement application would be effective upon death. If the member recovers, the disability retirement application can be withdrawn prior to approval.

Forms can be faxed to 518-474-3510 or 518-473-8190 or emailed directly to NYSLRS’ Disability Processing Unit at disprocessing@osc.ny.gov.  If Human Resources submits a disability retirement application on an employee’s behalf, the member or the member’s spouse, must file a Pension Payment Option Election Form to identify a beneficiary to receive the continuing benefit. The option election form must be notarized. An option election form cannot be filed by Human Resources.

For more information, visit the Disability Benefits Page (osc.ny.state.us/retire) on the NYSLRS website or call the NYSLRS Contact Center at 866-805-0990.

Eligible employees may also file for service retirement. However, a service retirement must be on file with NYSLRS at least 15 days prior to the retirement date, and a service retirement cannot be cancelled if the date of retirement has passed.

This announcement and the associated forms will be located on the Employee Portal.

Be well. 

-Nora Cairo

April 2, 2020

We wanted to make you aware of supportive programming being offered by our Employee Assistance Program, CCA@YourService, for the week of 4/6/20.

 

The first is a series of dial-in support groups, offering a forum where participants can share challenges and gain strategies for managing stress, coping with feelings of loneliness, and working remotely during COVID-19. To register for a session, click on the associated link. Please note that multiple session dates and times are being offered for each topic to accommodate schedules and maximize participation.

 

Working Remotely with Kids at Home

April 6 @ 1:00pm EDT

April 8 @ 2:00pm EDT

 

Social Distancing—Alone but Not Lonely

April 6 @ 10:00am EDT

April 8 @ 11:00am EDT

April 10 @ 11:30am EDT

 

COVID-19 Stress Management

April 7 @ 12:00pm EDT

April 9 @ 2:00pm EDT

 

The next is a mindfulness series. The practice of mindfulness can help you release tension, regain focus, and reset for improved well-being. These 10-minute, live sessions are an opportunity to experience these benefits for yourself. To register for a session, click on the associated link. You may register for more than one session, if you’d like!

 

Tuesday 4/7

12:00pm EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8743901810150116878

12:30pm EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8173965559845934350

 

Wednesday 4/8

9:00am EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1557712613820169742

9:30am EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7658577180907382542

4:30pm EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1586270229328299022

5:00pm EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1417476502767138574

 

Thursday 4/9

3:30am EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/319394240107319822

4:00am EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/324514665757909774

5:00pm EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6026503902078726926

5:30pm EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8832432287395667726

 

Friday 4/10

12:00pm EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1286843526271298830

12:30pm EDT https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8586902544820335886

Please be reminded that CCA@YourService is available 24/7 to provide emotional and practical support to you and your family members. 

 

Confidential toll-free helpline: 800-833-8707

Confidential member website: www.myccaonline.com (Company Code: SCWA )

-Nora Cairo

March 30, 2020

Hello Everyone - There have been some questions from employees working remotely from home who are unable to view who from SCWA may be contacting them on their cell phones. It has also been difficult for some employees to remember how to contact that person if all they have is the extension. As you know, using an outside line can be tricky  – is it 218----? Is it 563-0---? Or is it 563-9---?

 

IT has updated the search function within Outlook to address these concerns.

 

To search for an employee by name or by number – enter it into the Search People box. The person’s contact information will come up and the full 7-digit telephone number is displayed. 

 

Thank you IT for your assistance.

contact_search_screenshot 

-Donna Mancuso

March 27, 2020

Please see link here from Bill Martin regarding the delivery of mail and supplies to the Oakdale and Great River offices. This change is effective today.  Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

March 26, 2020

The Empire Plan is doing all they can to support its enrollees through this unprecedented time and has introduced a new telehealth benefit to help them access health care services remotely.

LiveHealth Online lets enrollees stay home and have a video visit with a board-certified doctor or licensed therapist on their smartphone, tablet or personal computer.

If you are concerned about leaving your homes to receive medical care or your ability to access care, The Empire Plan will cover telehealth visits at no cost. See the link here for additional information and step-by-step instructions to register. As you will see in the attachment, when booking an appointment, you will be asked for a credit card in order to move forward, however your card will NOT be charged as long as you use the coupon code below.

For additional assistance, call The Empire Plan at 1-877-7-NYSHIP (1-877-769-7447) and select option 2 for the Hospital Program.

Coupon Code: NYSHIP (to waive cost of telehealth visit)

Note: A postcard regarding this new benefit will also be mailed to you this coming week.

Stay well!

-Nora Cairo

March 26, 2020

f you have been given approval to work from home, please stay home. We have had a few recent instances of employees coming in to cover for another employee or work in the office partial days and then develop symptoms of COVID. This puts the rest of the employees at risk unnecessarily.

The purpose of working from home is to limit the exposure and the spread of the virus. It defeats the purpose when you come into the office.

If the management of the department wants to alternate schedules for employees to have coverage in the office, please schedule 1 week in and 1 week out. However, it is preferred for employees approved to work from home to continue to work from home until this crisis is over.

Remote employees should not return to working in the office unless approved by the CEO or me.

Thank you for keeping all of us as safe as possible.

Stay well. 

-Donna Mancuso

March 24, 2020

We want to again remind you to get the emotional support and resources you might need while dealing with this challenging situation.

Our EAP, CCA@YourService is available 24/7 at 800-833–8707.

You can also log onto the website at myccaonline.com (Web ID: SCWA) for extensive information and resources. They are also hosting weekly webinars on a variety of topics. Please register below.

PARENTING DURING COVID-19 – MARCH 26 @ 11am
PARENTING DURING COVID-19 – MARCH 30 @3pm
WORKING REMOTELY – MARCH 31 @ 2pm
STRESS MANAGEMENT – APRIL 1 @ 10:30am
WORKING REMOTELY – APRIL 1 @ 2pm
STRESS MANAGEMENT – APRIL 2 @ 3pm
WORKING REMOTELY – APRIL 3 @ 11am

We care about you and want to help you as much as possible during this difficult time.

Be well,

-Nora Cairo

March 23, 2020

Linked here is the NYSDOH guidelines referenced in Jeff Szabo’s last email.

-Donna Mancuso

March 17, 2020

We are committed to providing you and your family members with the emotional support you may need during this challenging time. Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP), CCA@YourService, is fully open, operational and available to assist you. 

You can reach CCA@YourService at 800-833-8707. You can also access information and resources via the website at myccaonline.com Use login code: scwa.

CCA@YourService will be hosting a free webinar COVID-19: Managing Stress. Please select from one of the options below, and click on the associated link to register. If the sessions exceed maximum capacity, additional sessions will be added, so please stay tuned.

Your health and wellbeing are our top priority. 

Coronavirus: Managing Stress  - Friday, March 20  - 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EST
Coronavirus: Managing Stress  - Tuesday, March 24 - 11:00 am -  12:00pm EST
Coronavirus: Managing Stress - Wednesday, March 25 - 1:30 - 2:30pm EST

-Nora Cairo

March 13, 2020

After hearing from employees and upon discussion with the executive staff, HR developed the attached form for employees to request a shift change during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is to allow employees, whenever possible, to change their work hours to allow them to look after their children in the event of school closures. If an employee is responsible for the care of another person (elderly parent or a relative with special needs) and their care facility closes due to COVID-19, this form should also be used.

Please note that a request will only be granted if it specifically pertains to COVID-19 and when it does not impact our ability to ensure the continuity of our vital operations. Some departments may not be able to provide a shift in schedule but we will try to be responsive to employees’ needs to the extent practicable.

- Donna Mancuso

March 13, 2020

On behalf of CEO Jeff Szabo:

To all Employees:

Below are the answers to the questions you’ve asked since yesterday morning about the COVID-19 virus and SCWA protocol during the outbreak. Please note that the questions you submitted may have been edited for clarity and/or combined with other similar questions from other employees.

I hope this is helpful and please feel free to send any additional questions to Tim Motz at tim.motz@scwa.com.

Please post this message for those without email accounts.

 

Has it been discussed how to handle our business in the event of widespread school closures? I’m sure there are a lot of employees with young children in school that will have a hard time coming to work because they will not have child care.

 

Yes. We are currently developing a procedure for employees, both management and union, to request a shift change during the COVID-19 outbreak to allow employees, whenever possible, to change their work hours that allow them to look after their children in the event of school closures.   An HR form will be available for employees to request a shift change, likely by this afternoon.  Please note that a request will only be granted if it specifically pertains to the virus and when it does not impact our ability to ensure the continuity of our vital operations.

This plan would have the additional benefit of limiting the number the employees in a given office at a given time, which in and of itself will help to protect the safety of our workforce.

 

When a person comes into work sick, not knowing if it’s a just a common cold, allergies or COVID-19, will they be either mandated to go home or mandated to stay at work?  

If an employee is sick, they should stay home, particularly if he or she has symptoms associated with the virus, such as a fever, shortness of breath or cough. If a supervisor has reason to feel that an employee has such symptoms, the supervisor may tell the employee to go home for the safety of other employees. As to the second point, no, there is no circumstance in which an employee would be directed to stay if he or she is sick.

 

If an employee is sick, will he or she be required to see a doctor and bring in a doctor’s note certifying that the person does not have the coronavirus or flu? 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other medical professionals have asked citizens to be mindful of not overwhelming already overtaxed medical staff. With that in mind, there is no requirement that an employee bring in note certifying they do not have the virus. However, if an employee does have the virus, he or she will need to be cleared by a doctor to return to work.

 

Will the Water Authority implement a policy and infrastructure to allow employees to work from home in order to ensure public safety? I understand this is not a solution for all employees but it will be for anyone working in an office.

We have been evaluating the feasibility of this for weeks. We provide an essential product that sustains human life, so we need to do everything we can to ensure as many of our employees as possible are working. If it becomes necessary to do so, we expect that we’ll allow employees to work from home where possible. We are already in the process of testing out work-from-home scenarios.

 

What is the Authority’s position on employees who have been out of the country or even traveled within the country recently as to their return to work? 

SCWA supervisors do not have the authority to ask employees about recent travel. However, for the safety of all, we encourage employees to voluntarily alert Human Resources about recent travel if they feel it’s relevant.

 

If an employee were to contract the virus and must stay home for any length of time, will the Water Authority require us to use our own time?

Yes, employees will be required to use their accruals.

 

If someone is mandated to stay home for two weeks, but doesn’t have the sick/vacation time to do so will the Water Authority provide the sick time to cover them?

No, but the federal government is reportedly contemplating stimulus legislation that may include such measures. It’s simply too early to say what provisions any stimulus package may or may not include.

 

Should we not allow customers in to use our restrooms since they can’t come into the office? 

Customers are only allowed to use bathrooms that do not require entrance into a secured area. This means customers may use the bathroom in the common area of the Coram building in front of the counter. SCWA is renting portable toilets and placing them at PC Bayshore, Oakdale, and Westhampton. They will be placed near the location used by delivery companies to deliver goods to SCWA, such as chlorine, lime or pipe fittings so that delivery people don’t need to use a SCWA bathroom.

 

To avoid everyone getting sick at the same time, can we try having as many employees as possible not come into the offices at all? By utilizing Clevest, we can just work out of our trucks with our computers.

We’re not going to ask employees to not come into offices at all, but we strongly advise  employees to avoid congregating in breakout rooms or other work stations whenever possible and, if you are a field worker, to get into vehicles and out into the field as soon as possible.

 

Are the cleaning people wiping down doorknobs and surfaces with disinfectant?

Yes. Cleaning staff have been advised that we require them to pay special attention to the doorknobs and frequently touched surfaces and to wipe them down each night with disinfectant. But we also encourage all employees to keep their own work spaces disinfected in order to help protect the health of all SCWA employees. We are also using our best judgement in providing disinfectant supplies to office and field staff while ensuring that our supplies last as long as possible until supply keeps up with demand.

 

At what point should someone decide to stay home? For instance, I felt a little under the weather the past few days and had a few symptoms of sickness.

If you feel sick, you should not come to work, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms the CDC has indicated are associated with the virus, such as fever, shortness of breath or a cough.

 

If the most common form of infection from COVID-19 is from respiratory droplets spread by a person’s cough or sneeze, why does the CDC not recommend wearing a facemask to protect from COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases?

Here’s how one health expert, Dr. Payal Kohli, answered this question for a news station in Denver: “Surgical masks are not recommended at this time by the CDC to prevent transmission of coronavirus. This is because surgical masks, which are largely ineffective in preventing transmission of COVID-19, are relatively loose-fitting and only protect from large respiratory droplets. They are not effective in filtering or protecting against small respiratory droplets that can carry coronavirus and cause infection. Some experts believe that the masks may actually increase the risk of transmission due to improper use, more frequent touching of your face to reposition the mask and a false sense of security of protection, making it less likely that you would wash your hands.”

 

 

What medication is prescribed for an infected person?

According to the CDC, there is no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19, so treatment currently consists of supportive care to help relieve symptoms and, for severe cases, care to support vital organs.

 

If you have no symptoms of COVID-19, should you get tested as a precautionary measure? If so, is the test covered by our Empire Plan? Do most doctors have testing supplies? Should we have children tested as well?  

If there’s a medical reason for a doctor to request the COVID-19 test, then absolutely SCWA health insurance will cover it. The other questions are more appropriately handled by health professionals. Employees are encouraged to go to www.cdc.gov. The site has comprehensive information, including commonly asked questions, about COVID-19.

 

If an employee in the office you work in is confirmed with COVID-19, will all employees they work with be quarantined? And if so, will quarantined employees be asked to use their own accruals, or will they receive their salary without having to use accrued time?

Any employee confirmed with COVID-19 will be referred to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, which will make a determination as to what subsequent steps should be taken to protect the health of other employees. Presently, any employee that may need to be quarantined would be required to use their own accruals, unless funding to cover such employees is approved by the federal or state government.

 

If someone who works here, or a spouse, or friend, or acquaintance comes in contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19, what should they do?

Report it to Human Resources. It will be referred to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services for a determination as to how to proceed.

 

Can COVID-19 traverse our distribution system and if so, what methods are in place that eliminate the threat?

No. SCWA water is disinfected with chlorine at pump stations, and a virus such as COVID-19 would not survive the disinfection process.

 

Will SCWA have a COVID-19 testing clinic on site for employees, if/when it becomes available?

We do not at this point expect to host an onsite testing clinic for the virus.

 

Will SCWA have a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on site for employees, if/when it becomes available?

No. We anticipate we will rely on guidance from the New York State Department of Health and Suffolk County Department of Health Services regarding proper vaccination protocol.

 

If an employee becomes ill, does SCWA have a plan to sanitize the site where they work?

Yes, we will absolutely sanitize work sites at which an employee has become ill from COVID-19.

 

Is there a “shelter in place” plan for SCWA employees should it become necessary to keep staff on site?

We do have cots, blankets and towels in place for such a contingency, but in such an outbreak as this, health officials would likely be more inclined to have employees isolate from other employees at their homes rather than congregate at a work site overnight.

-Donna Mancuso

 

Video Update - March 25, 2020

 

Video Update - March 18, 2020