Glenn Heights Proactive Approach To COVID-19 Is Working
GLENN HEIGHTS – By March 9 when the first confirmed COVID-19 case was reported in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the City of Glenn Heights was about a week ahead of the situation.
Glenn Heights City Manager David Hall said the city had its first “Continuity of Operations” staff meeting on the morning of March 2.
“That first week staff began working on operational contingency plans,” Hall explained. “By March 10, city emergency management staff briefed city council on COVID-19 and our beginning responses.”
It was March 11 when the World Health Organization classified COVID-19 as a pandemic.
On March 12 Dallas County officials declared a local disaster and it was reported 13 people were reported to have COVID-19 in North Texas.
Glenn Heights, a city that has reported five confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, April 7, continued to hold meetings and provided additional operational updates on March 17.
“We started having strategy meetings about available resources, operational analysis, and large-scale needs assessments,” Hall said. “Once we assessed the state of operations and resources, we began working to acquire additional resources and worked through operational contingency plans.
One of the key things the city did in those first few days too was begin the procurement of additional PPE. Hall said this allowed the city to begin to outfit its first responders with full protective PPE at an early stage.
“By March 13 we had closed our Senior Center, in a preemptive attempt to protect our most vulnerable population,” he added.
The city does still provide drop-off meal service even now weeks in to the pandemic.
They also created alternating work schedules to limit the interactions of staff in the event of an outbreak and implemented mandatory temperature screenings of all employees before allowing them to begin their workday.
“These actions were being taken as early as the second week of March,” Hall recalled. “Additionally, we began complete disinfection of all operating city facilities twice daily. Further, we developed a plan to close city offices to the public by the second week of March and increased our fuel capacity to service City vehicles by obtaining additional fuel tanks. We have still been able to provide effective customer service via offering telephonic and videoconferencing customer service options during our normal business hours.”
Another early preliminary operational concern the city addressed was the preparation of staff quarantine facilities.
“As our city is currently facilities challenged until we complete construction of our City Center Project, by the end of the first week, we had prepared city facilities to sleep and accommodate six persons under two different levels of quarantine, if so needed,” Hall explained.
This is not Glenn Heights’ first emergency
Hall alludes to the fact this is not the first time the city has had to undergo an emergency -referring to the tornado in 2015.
“After having led the city during that time as Acting City Manager, the value of a good emergency management staff can’t be understated,” Hall said. “I am grateful that our current Fire Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator also served as the Emergency Management Coordinator during that event, along with having other experienced emergency management staff. We knew that early preparation was key to having the long-term ability to maintain our service levels.”
Hall said during the emergency preparation for COVID-19 Glenn Heights participated in numerous conference calls and realized they were already doing things other cities were still trying to figure out.
“We knew that we were a small city and that addressing everything before it happened would be the only way we would be able to sustain through such a protracted event,” the City Manager concluded. “We have been very proactive with placing as much information as possible on our city website, city social media pages, and have held several weekly Facebook Live broadcasts with our Mayor and emergency management staff. This affords our citizens to hear current information on what is being done directly from the Mayor and key staff.”