County Executive Parisi Declares State of Emergency in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
March 16, 2020
Ariana Vruwink, 608-267-8823
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi today declared a State of Emergency as county government and its partners continue to coordinate preparedness and response to the spread of COVID-19, known as the Coronavirus. The declaration comes after Sunday’s directive by Public Health of Madison-Dane County to close all schools, place new limitations on restaurants, theaters and other public gathering spots, and restrict any events over 50 people from occurring.
“By stepping forward and taking aggressive action, we’re hopeful we’re doing our part to slow the spread of this illness,” Parisi said. “Communities come together during challenging times to reassure and care for one another. County employees signed up for public service work because they value community. We are ready for whatever lies ahead.”
The declaration dedicates the full allocation of county resources be available to ensure the continuation of core county services in the midst of the pandemic. The declaration may also allow the county to more effectively seek federal reimbursement for public expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19 response work. All public sector entities in the county – local governments and schools – are encouraged to closely track expenses related to the work underway to keep people safe.
Parisi also announced that starting today (Monday, March 16th) a number of county employees will be working from remote locations, consistent with continuity of operations plans departments developed a few years ago. The plans were recently updated as Coronavirus emerged as a global pandemic. Countywide, wherever possible a significant number of county employees now have the technical capability to work outside of an office setting and, effective today, are beginning to reduce face to face human contact. This will help provide social distancing at work consistent with public health recommendations.
Additionally, where possible county staff are limiting face to face meetings, conducting more tele and video conferences, and resetting work spaces to allow for greater distance between employees in offices. For example, the Dane County 911 Center now has two fully operational call centers, allowing them the flexibility of where to assign staff. The recently constructed Dane County East District Campus, which includes a back-up 911 center, allows for this to occur.
The following Dane County facilities are closed to the public currently as a result of COVID-19: The Henry Vilas Zoo, the Badger Prairie Health Care Center (Nursing Home), and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site run by the UW-Extension Dane County.