Part 1 was a post derived from an article in the Delaware County Daily Times that focused on two local county assistance offices’ policy of dealing with the workplace when a co-worker is found to have COVID-19. In the case mentioned in that article, workers were told at the end of the day a co-worker had the disease and days went by before the office was deep cleaned.
Although not a point of emphasis in the article, I couldn’t help but to wonder why most of those workers weren’t working from home since the building was closed to the public. I chalked it up to old technology.
Wouldn’t you know, the Philadelphia Inquirer covered that same story yesterday from the technology angle. Here’s what they said…
the state’s 90-plus county assistance offices are still staffed by workers processing benefits for services like cash and food assistance, health-care coverage, and family planning.
Though the offices are closed to the public, these workers, classified as “essential,” must show up because the state lacks the necessary technology and other measures to allow them to work from home.
Bingo Stefan. Another ‘I-told-you-so’ moment.
The spokesperson goes on to say…
“trying to expand resources to facilitate telework for these employees,” with 94 telecommuting on a trial basis this week. The department employs 6,800 county assistance caseworkers, though it was unclear how many were in offices.
At least they’re trying. There may still be 6,706 out of 6,800 county assistance workers still showing up for work at the office, but if the experiment works for the first 94, who knows how many may be able to participate?
Last week, the department requested $90,000 in emergency funds to buy HP laptops for county assistance office workers. Catanese, of SEIU Local 668, said that is a positive development, but workers have not been told how those laptops will be distributed or if there will be enough to give all staff an equitable opportunity to work from home.
Like I’ve said with schools, it’s almost impossible to turn a brick and mortar school into a cyber school overnight. Same goes for companies trying to do a work from home solution when they’ve never even tried it before. And can you imagine the cat-fight when they start scrambling for laptops and deciding who gets to work from home or not? It’s about to get ugly at the county assistance offices across Pennsylvania.
But, can it really get any uglier than it really is when facts like these are reveled…
At one office where a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, Catanese said, employees were told the space had been thoroughly disinfected. But when staff passed a wipe over frequently touched and shared equipment — keyboards, printers, and even a vending machine — the wipes turned dark with grime.
There’s no glamour in being a county assistance office worker. But, they are essential to making sure so many people obtain the benefits they are entitled to from the State. They have to be valued right now.
As was said in the article…
if just a handful of workers within our offices … test positive for the virus, the resulting impact on statewide public services could be catastrophic.”