City of Fremont Steps & Plans to Ensure City Services During COVID-19 Concern

FREMONT – The City of Fremont has taken multiple steps to make sure essential City services remain available, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the lives of nearly everyone in the country.

City Administrator Brian Newton acknowledged the impact that most City employees have had to their own lives. “First, I want to thank our employees for showing up to work in these difficult times. Many of you have children at home, alone, because schools have closed or daycares are limiting the number of children at the center. Others, like me, are worried about elderly parents and grandparents that are at risk from being exposed and possibly dying from the virus. Whatever your worry may be, thank you for being here and making a difference in Fremont. We appreciate your efforts.”

The City is now taking all of the necessary precautions possible to make sure the electric power stays on, the water remains safe to drink, the wastewater treatment plant continues to process sewage, and that natural gas remains flowing to homes and businesses in Fremont.

To ensure that utility services will remain available, the City has made the following operational changes or concessions in its own operations:

1) Postponed the outage on Unit #8 at the Lon D. Wright Power Plant. Initially Unit #8 was taken offline on February 28, for what was a planned 7-week outage to inspect the generator and turbine valves, and to conduct a boiler life-study. However, given the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the outage was postponed until this fall. Several contractors had started some of the work, which got finished, but most of the work was able to be postponed. Crews are now putting the unit back together so it will be available for the summer heatwave.

2) Suspended all non-essential business travel for City Employees and instituted quarantine measures for City Employees returning from out of state travel. City Employees have been directed to utilize video conferences in lieu of traveling for meetings.

3) Stepped up cleaning measures to protect City employees and the public from risk of exposure.

4) Asked City employees, who have direct customer contact, to take social distancing precautionary measures and to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) if they suspect someone may be sick.

The City has also unveiled guidelines outlining the delivery of City services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The service plan has a tiered response to the virus. Here are the tiers and what they mean:

City services are currently being delivered under the Level 2 Yellow, where there is minimal impact to City services.

If, however, the COVID-19 continues to spread as predicted and the City moves into Level 3 Orange, the guidelines have the City reducing its workforce and closing all City buildings to the public. In this case, many City services will be impacted. For example, utility customers that typically pay their bill at the office will instead have to mail in their payment, put it in the drop-off box, or use the drive-through. Customers that pay online with a credit card or have setup reoccurring monthly payments will not be affected. Other City services will be affected by the Level 3 Orange tier, with information to be communicated at that time.

If and when the City goes into the last level, Level 4 Red, it will greatly affect City services. At that level, employees are sent home, all City buildings are closed, and non-essential city services are suspended. Only those services that are essential to the health and welfare of the community will be maintained: electric power, water, wastewater, natural gas, police, fire, and emergency 911 services. These will be maintained at a basic level with minimum staff. For example, employees will only respond to emergency calls like fires, ambulance calls, emergency utility services, power outages, gas and water leaks, and other emergencies. All other City services will be discontinued.

“Levels 3 & 4 are necessary for one reason and one reason only,” said Newton. “To reduce the spread of the virus to the public and to our employees. Let’s do what we can to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases to protect each other and our loved ones.”