Dear Employees,

Last week brought significantly more changes to our lives and County operations due to the changing nature of COVID-19. Please know your dedication and commitment to our community are appreciated, especially as we continue to adjust our work environments and day-to-day operations to ensure we are able to provide the essential services our community requires.

The overall safety and well-being of our employees and residents remain our top priorities. We continue to expand protective measures to limit exposure to COVID-19 and ensure the safety of everyone. Many County services have been modified or are being delivered remotely. Additionally, facilities where these services are typically delivered have been closed or now have limited public access. As a result, I have asked departments to enable employees whose work may be performed remotely to work from home whenever possible. I intend to keep employees productive and in a paid status, working toward our shared goals of serving Orange County.

When employees indicate potential exposure to the virus, they are advised to consult with a health care provider and quarantine at home for 14 days. In these cases, employees are paid while they quarantine. Our residents will continue to rely on the County for several essential services, as a result, some departments will continue to depend on frontline employees to perform this work. In these work environments, enhanced cleaning protocols have been implemented to keep employees protected.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is not slowing down. On Friday, Orange County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated to its highest level – Level 1. This means we are at our highest level of alertness and that representatives from all of our County municipalities and partner agencies are present in-person or virtually at our EOC.

As you may know, the State of Florida is taking the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe and healthy. This includes supporting the coordination of testing sites in Orange County. These temporary testing sites reduce overwhelming the health departments and help prevent unnecessary illness spread at healthcare facilities. Please note, Orange County Government does not run these testing sites. The sites are run by FEMA and the Florida Division of Emergency Management. For more information about testing sites, visit www.ocfl.net/coronavirus .

While it is encouraging to see people outside exercising and observing social distancing measures, there are still too many members of our community out and about on the roadways. However, we understand that many County employees and others need to physically report to work in order to provide essential services. To the extent possible, I appreciate you taking the Stay at Home Executive Order seriously and setting the example for our community.

We are actively monitoring legislative decisions to determine any impacts they may have on the Orange County community and our employees. Below you will find information regarding two legislative Acts that were passed and signed into law in response to COVID-19 that may be of interest to many of you.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The FFCRA requires certain employers, including Orange County Government, to provide their employees with Emergency Expanded Family and Medical Leave, as well as Paid Sick Leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will go into effect beginning April 1, 2020 and are scheduled to continue through December 31, 2020.

To see if you may qualify for any of the benefits under this portion of the Act, please review this breakdown of key components and eligibility criteria . Additionally, for more information concerning your rights as an employee as it pertains to key provisions of the FFCRA, check out this helpful resource created by the U.S. Department of Labor.
 
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)
We know many of our employees, residents, and businesses are hurting and I am determined to continue to pay all of our employees’ full salaries during this period with no furloughs. I also wanted to take this time to share with you our understanding of the Cares Act which will benefit many of our employees. Congress has passed a $2 Trillion stimulus package that will include direct checks to Americans, as well as help for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The CARES Act provides one-time, direct financial assistance payments of up to $1,200 to individuals with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) up to $75,000 or up to $2,400 for married couples with combined AGI up to $150,000. Payments increase by an additional $500 per qualifying child. For more information about the CARES Act, please review a breakdown of the bill created by the National Association of Counties. During our press conference this past Saturday, Congresswoman Val Demings addressed some of the benefits that will be coming to Central Florida. The next Orange County press conference will be held today at 4:30 p.m.
 
Health & Wellness During COVID-19
During this stressful time, it’s more important than ever to make sure you and your family are taking care of your overall health and well-being. If you are not feeling well or have come into contact with someone who does not feel well, please notify your supervisor, stay home and consult a medical professional as soon as possible. As a County employee, you have a variety of free health and wellness resources available at your fingertips. I encourage you to take advantage of the Cigna Health Coaches with whom you can schedule a virtual appointment by emailing CoachingOC@cigna.com . You can also schedule a virtual visit with our Wellness Nurse by emailing B etsy.Theriot@adventhealth.com .
 
From the onset of COVID-19, we have emphasized the importance of taking deliberate measures to avoid the spread of germs and exposure to this unprecedented virus. Social distancing is one way to avoid exposure. It requires us to keep a safe distance from others and avoid gatherings of 10 or more people. However, over time this practice can take a toll on our mental health. Socially distancing ourselves from one another challenges us to look for other creative ways to build those personal connections that we thrive on every day. Thanks to technology, it is possible to stay connected with our family and friends; even from a distance. Whether you’re working remotely or physically at work, don’t forget to check on your co-workers throughout the workday, as well as make time to step away and focus on you.
 
Other Helpful Resources
If you and/or your family are on the County’s medical benefits plan, you can utilize MDLive, one of our telehealth services. This app offers virtual counseling with licensed mental health therapists, which you can access from the comfort of your home. You can find more information about this and other mental health and wellness resources through mycigna.com . As a reminder, all employees can access free counseling services through GuidanceResources by visiting GuidanceResources.com or calling 855-221-8925. Our web id is ORANGECOUNTY.
 
Thank you, again, for everything you do every day; especially over the past few weeks, as we continue to navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your supervisor. To remain updated as the situation in the County progresses visit www.ocfl.net/coronavirus . Your unwavering commitment to our community and organization are greatly valued.

Sincerely,
Jerry L. Demings, Orange County Mayor signature