City leaders in steady contact with county OES officials over COVID-19 response

This city and its 1.8 square miles is a relatively small slice of the expansive Bay Area, but a small group of City of Piedmont department heads is being kept plenty busy helping protect it during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic response.

City Administrator Sara Lillevand said Thursday the city doesn’t have an “emergency task force” per se, but rather a local government whose workers are all part of a response team. All city department heads, Lillevand said, are actively involved day-to-day. Their responsibilities during this shelter-in-place and other responses to the coronavirus pandemic include:

  • Maintain live, real-time engagement with the Alameda County Office of Emergency Services. Lillevand described Piedmont as being one spoke in the OES’ Operations Area wheel, and that Piedmont leaders interact with other governmental and public safety agencies daily.
  • Maintain emergency services at a “heightened state of readiness,” while ensuring local emergency workers’ health and wellness.
  • Continue to make it possible for “non-essential” Piedmont employees to work from home. At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Lillevand stressed that all city departments are taking phone calls and emails, even if most city buildings are closed to the public and many local programs are postponed or canceled in the face of the citywide — and countywide, statewide and nationwide — coronavirus response. “It may look different and feel different, but the city is fully operational,” she said.
  • Provide as many services to residents as possible.
  • Plan for various contingencies.

Lillevand said Piedmont, and every community, has its own specific concerns, obstacles and issues.

“Piedmont’s small size comes with smaller problems for sure,” she said. “However, our small size also comes with a small workforce with limited resources to redeploy and little capacity to withstand potential widespread absenteeism.”

On Monday night, just a few hours before the shelter-in-place order took effect, Lillevand said ratifying the county declaration will allow the city to be nimble in the face of rapid change that has come with the coronavirus outbreak, and to better recover costs the city incurs in carrying out potential emergency responses. 

What the emergency declaration also does is make every Piedmont city employee an “emergency worker,” as it does in Alameda County and in any California city or county that has declared a local emergency. 

Of course, the standard essential services — including police and fire protection, some Public Works Department functions — will continue to be provided. 

When asked how Piedmont residents can be most helpful during these unprecedented times, Lillevand said people need to take the shelter-in-place order seriously.

“We have a window in time to ‘‘flatten the curve,’ but some residents seem to be ignoring the real threat by continuing to socialize outside of their homes or welcoming others into their homes,” she said Thursday. 

Reach Sam Richards at sam.richards4344@gmail.com

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