CT COVID Leave update

Community Transit Colleagues,
Our county and region are currently experiencing a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases because of the highly contagious Omicron variant. The number of people in our county testing positive has doubled week over week in January and the prediction is that the infection rate will remain high for the next few weeks, if not longer. Community Transit is no exception to this trend, with already 31 employees reporting positive in January. This is the most we have seen in one month and we are only fourteen days in. The chart below from Snohomish County Public Health and UW shows the state forecast for infections and hospitalization and paints a sobering picture.
This development is causing understandable concerns, and I’ve heard from a number of you about how it’s affecting your individual circumstances. We are seeing new cases in departments across the agency among employees working both from home and on-site. I’m glad to report that many who have reported positive this month have either already recovered or are recovering.
The spike in cases is unusual and demands a response. Therefore, I am taking the following steps to help us all deal with the situation:
CT will adjust the quarantine and isolation policy to follow updated CDC guidance. The new policy will shorten the time from 10 days to 5 days in most cases to provide more flexibility for scheduling and provide relief from the need to draw down leave balances. More information on this policy will be shared next week.

CT will provide up to an additional 40 hours of COVID-19 supplemental leave effective at the start of this pay period (January 9). I have asked the Finance & Administration and Employee Engagement teams to work out the details. They will provide additional information next week about how it will work.
I have directed ICS to begin acquiring a supply of rapid test kits so that we can respond to contact tracing needs in a timely fashion. This may take some time given the available supply, but we will move as quickly as possible so we can support employees who may have been exposed and need to be tested before returning to work.
I have asked our operations and planning teams to review current service levels, in response to ridership and staffing, and provide a recommendation on interim adjustments that may be appropriate. I want to avoid over-reliance on overtime, provide flexibility for scheduling service to meet our performance standards, and provide certainty and reliability for riders. I will make a decision on this by next week.
We will continue to follow public health guidance, which has been proven to protect employees throughout this pandemic. This includes the use of KN95 masks, social distancing, cleaning protocols and upgraded air filters.
I have delayed the return to base for those currently working remotely from February 1 to at least March 1 in order to limit opportunities for the virus to spread. We will monitor the arc of the omicron wave and adjust as needed. In the meantime, individual directors will continue to have flexibility to work with employees to tailor time in the office at their respective discretion, consistent with our safety policies and protocols.
The good news is vaccination and boosters are decreasing the risk of getting COVID-19 and helping people avoid serious illness and hospitalization if they do get it. If you are eligible for your booster and have not received it, I strongly encourage you to do so.
Omicron has presented yet another serious Covid-related challenge to us. Fortunately, we are in a strong position to meet this moment. These steps will help us stay safe and focused on delivering critical mobility services for the people depending on CT every day to get where they need to go. Thank you for your service, and stay tuned for more updates next week.
In the meantime, I’ll send a special shout-out to folks working this long weekend. I hope all of you can spend some time on rest and reflection while observing the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr holiday.
Ric Ilgenfritz
Chief Executive Officer