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Johnson City implements travel rules for employees

David Floyd • Mar 14, 2020 at 8:30 AM

Johnson City is asking employees to contact its human resources department for instructions before conducting international travel or departing on certain domestic trips.

An email from Johnson City Communications and Marketing Director Keisha Shoun to all city staff said employees who plan to travel internationally or by cruise ship must contact Human Resources Director Steve Willis before leaving. Employees leaving on domestic trips to states considered high risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must also contact HR before departing.

“As we previously communicated, all employees — whether or not they have traveled — may be sent home by a supervisor if they are exhibiting virus-like symptoms,” Shoun wrote. “We encourage all employees who have elderly family members or family members with compromised health to minimize their personal contact with other people.”

According to the CDC, states with between 101 and 200 cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are considered high risk. Before they return to work, the email instructs employees to contact HR if the high risk classification for their travel destination changes during their trip.

“If your destination is not in the high risk classification then you are not required to contact Human Resources prior to departure, nor after return, as long as the classification falls below the high risk threshold,” the email said.

The email said the city is working closely with state and local health agencies to maintain current protocols in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Administrators have been holding daily meetings to keep updated on the impact of the illness.

“These meetings have also included contingency plans to maintain a consistent level of service to our citizens during the outbreak,” the email said. “We will continue to provide these updates as information develops or changes.”

Scheduling changes

Freedom Hall Director Lisa Chamness said the facility is working to reschedule some events as concerns about the novel coronavirus grows.

The Connecting Individuals through Performing Arts Winter Guard competition scheduled at Freedom Hall for Saturday, March 21, has been postponed.

The Electrify Your Symphony concert, a performance by about 400 Johnson City Schools students accompanied by Mark Wood of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, was originally scheduled for April 9 at Freedom Hall Civic Center but has also been delayed. Johnson City Schools spokesman Collin Brooks said officials haven’t yet announced a specific makeup date.

Chamness said Friday afternoon that performances by country musician Gary Allen, scheduled for April 17, and Paw Patrol, scheduled for April 21 and 22, are at this time still moving forward.

At this time, Chamness said Freedom Hall hasn’t implemented any extraordinary cleaning measures beyond what is typically done. She said cleaning staff have been doing a good job, but over the next few weeks, she anticipates Freedom Hall will plan on performing some extra cleaning as a precautionary step.

The Johnson City Public Library announced Friday that it will be canceling all events and programs effective immediately through Monday, April 6. One-on-one computer and reference consultations will continue as scheduled.

As of now, the library has remained open during its regular hours and has made several changes to its day-to-day activities to mitigate the threat of COVID-19. Housekeeping and sanitation efforts have been expanded and staff are frequently disinfecting surfaces like door handles, keyboards and self-check stations.

The library noted that many of its digital resources, like ebooks and audiobooks from Tennessee READS, are always available at www.jcpl.org.

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