City Manager Mike Ortega Message - COVID-19

I know that you are all talented and dedicated public servants. In this new and rapidly changing environment we find ourselves in, you are being challenged to provide service to our community under circumstances that we have never faced before. I understand that this is causing many of you concern. Without a shadow of a doubt we will rise to the occasion and continue to support our community. To do so, we have two responsibilities moving forward, we need to maintain a continuity of operations for our core services and we need to do our part to encourage social distancing where appropriate.

In order to keep our community safe and provide services they need for their daily lives, we need to focus on keeping you safe so you can provide those services. This will remain our top priority throughout this effort. How that translates exactly is yet to be determined, but know we are working with your directors and will keep you apprised of our efforts.

You will hear the term COOP which stands for Continuity of Operations Plan. Our COOP is how we establish continuing to operate our organization in times of extreme absenteeism and shortages of supplies. Each department and functional area has been tasked with updating their COOPs. The key is for us to ensure we are able to continue to deliver essential services to our residents.

We have gathered all stockpiles of supplies and centralized supplies at the Surplus Auction and Materials Management (SAMM) warehouse. SAMM will be staffed 24/7 on an on call basis. We are currently establishing a protocol for the distribution of supplies based on critical need.

We are working through how to distribute gloves for all of those who handle cash and interact with the public. It is important that gloves are used in accordance with proper procedure. Please watch the following video on proper glove procedure -

The Pima County Health Department does not advise mask usage for non-public safety personnel. In fact, the use of a mask could provide more harm than good for use by those not sick. We will not be issuing masks to non-public safety staff at this time.

It is very important that if you plan to call out (not come to work), you let your supervisor know as early as possible so we know where staff shortages may be and can make decisions around how your functions will be handled. I am asking for a daily update from each department on absentees so we can reallocate resources as may be needed.

Most in-home related visits from Code Enforcement and Housing and Community Development staff will be ceased until further notice. Those staff will be reassigned to provide other essential functions within their departments.

We have closed all service counters and lobbies within City buildings. Please direct customers to online services and payment options.

This morning, we established new procedures for mail handling. All mail will be date stamped and held for 24 hours at the location of receipt before distributing to the final recipients. 

We are currently working to enable as many employees as possible to work from home. Work from home assignments decisions will be made at the department level based on maintaining essential services.

I will be ending the $250 Wellness Attendance Incentive at this time. While the original intention of this policy was well received, this is not the time to be incentivizing people to save their sick leave.

The COVID-19 pandemic will cause deep economic impacts, the duration of which are currently unforeseeable. Because of that I am currently asking all departments to stop all non-essential spending. Additionally, with the exception of commissioned public safety personnel at police and fire, and public safety communications line staff we are freezing all hiring. Please work with your department directors and HR liaisons to manage any recruitments currently underway. All departments are also responsible for tracking all spending related to COVID-19 response in the event that there are opportunities to be reimbursed for these expenses at some point in the future.

As you may have seen in the Mayor’s previous release, we have allocated up to 24 hours of leave (change effective 4/1/2020). HR has established a code for those employees establishing a negative leave balance. A memo has been distributed with the details regarding this new leave code and how to use it. As a reminder, you need to use all sick leave, vacation leave, comp time, administrative leave, and the floating holiday before you can enter a negative leave balance.

We have created a comprehensive website with the latest information related to COVID-19 from the City at

Lastly, please take extra precautions to take care of yourself during this time. Eat sensibly, get a good night’s rest every evening, attempt to manage your stress, and practice good, basic hygiene as outlined by the CDC and included in my previous emails. If you are feeling sick, please do not come to work. Thank you for all that you do to protect and service our community.  See you around…