County Manager Harry Burgess
Los Alamos County Manager Harry Burgess announced today that the County will continue its Essential Services status due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in response to the extension to the executive order issued by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The Governor has extended her order through Friday, May 15.
“While I am encouraged by the data provided by the State Department of Health that New Mexico may be turning the corner on fighting the spread of the Coronavirus, we are not out of danger just yet and need to be diligent in our practices,” Burgess said. “Our Emergency Manager, Beverley Simpson, is beginning to develop a Recovery Plan that I will be reviewing with Department Directors over the next few weeks, with a goal of gradually re-opening our offices and County-managed facilities. It is likely this will take some time and involves myriad challenges for staffing and resources. I am pleased with the level of services that we have been able to maintain for the past five weeks with our current ‘skeleton crew’ – our employees are doing a great job in providing services while greatly minimizing or eliminating face-to-face interactions with the public. By extending my directive three more weeks, we will continue to align with the Governor’s executive order and keep our workforce and the public as safe as possible.”
Burgess said there has been no change to his previous direction to employees, first issued mid-March:
Employees providing essential services who have the ability to work from home (telecommute) will continue to be assigned work.
Employees providing essential services who have a job that requires them to be in the field, such as public safety or utilities’ workers, will report to work as scheduled.
All other employees who provide non-essential services, as defined and determined by Department Directors and with approval from the County Manager, will remain at home. They will be on special Emergency Paid Leave status, must be in contact with their Supervisor daily, and could be recalled to work at any time.
Customer service windows within County facilities are still closed to over-the-counter transactions and communication with County employees is being provided via phone or e-mail. Individuals should not travel to County facilities without first phoning the department they wish to visit to inquire about their current level of services, restrictions on visits, and any other information they can share about their transaction. In many cases, services are available on-line and members of the public will be directed to these resources. If an in-person visit is urgent and necessary, an appointment will be scheduled by phone or e-mail.
Burgess said that recovering from the pandemic will still take time and asked for residents to be patient, stay at home if at all possible, and practice social distancing of six feet or more.
“Recovering from such a wide-sweeping, national pandemic like this is extraordinary and we must consider short and long-term impacts,” Burgess said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we need to plan and react accordingly in a safe, thoughtful manner.”
Burgess said that he would continue to assess the situation and update his directive to all employees on or before May 15, as he continues to monitor activities at the State level.
“The Governor has indicated that she is in the “preparation” stage of re-opening the State in a variety of ways, phased over time, and thus we will be prepared to shift staffing and resources,” Burgess said, adding that he expects the Governor will be coming forward with more details on her recovery plans before May 15, which could include additional guidance for local governments to consider.
Burgess reminded the public that the County posts COVID-19 updates on the County’s website and encouraged residents to check the website daily for new posts: