How Hard are County Employees Getting Hit by COVID?

By Adam Pagnucco.

One dimension of the current COVID crisis that has not been addressed so far is the impact on county employees. Many county employees, especially in public safety and transportation, are essential workers who have to interact face-to-face with the public. How are they doing in terms of their exposure to COVID-19?

The county’s COVID dashboard contains some data on county employee exposure. As of this morning, the county reported that 1,102 of its employees had missed work due to “a COVID-19 related exposure.” Of those employees, 1,037 had returned to work, 72 were currently in quarantine and 3 had passed away. Exposures by department are shown in the table below.

Overall, 10% of county employees have missed work due to exposure. The four departments with the highest rates of missed work are correction (38% of positions), fire and rescue (16%), transportation (12%) and police (11%).

However, exposures do not equal actual cases of COVID-19. I asked county health officer Travis Gayles for actual COVID cases by department and the county’s Office of Human Resources supplied them. The table below shows cases by department and compares them to cases among county residents.

Countywide, COVID cases account for roughly 2% of the population. For the most part, the case rates among county employees are near that level or lower.

Overall, the data shows that the county is doing a decent job of protecting most of its employees from COVID. Some departments have experienced significant scheduling challenges due to quarantine procedures from exposures. But those same quarantines may have helped limit the spread of the virus in employee work sites. This data suggests that as an employer, the county has done its part to contain COVID-19.