The city of Mission is still receiving results from a voluntary COVID-19 testing done on its employees last month.
According to the city, which released the amount of positive cases per department Tuesday after the Progress Times submitted a public information request, 26 city employees in 10 different departments have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
At press time Thursday afternoon, Mission has 924 positive cases of the disease according to the Hidalgo County website, making it the city with the second largest number of COVID-19 cases in the county behind Edinburg’s 958.
As of Friday morning, the amount of COVID-19 cases in Mission overtook Edinburg with 1,203 cases against Edinburg’s 1,171.
According to Mission city Manager Randy Perez, most of these positive results are from a free testing conducted by the city for its employees Friday, June 26.
“We had over 250 employees who tested voluntarily so these are some of the results we are getting and continuing to get,” Perez said, adding that the amount of positive cases could change as more results come in. “Most of the positives have been from that testing.”
According to the city report, employees from the city’s boys and girls club, fire department, human resources, library, MEDC, media relations, parks and recreation, police, public works and sanitation departments have tested positive for COVID-19.
All but the police department have four or less positive cases per department. Four employees, three of which are from the police department and one from the media relations department, have returned to work, making it 22 active cases of COVID-19 in the city departments.
The city police department has the highest amount of COVID-19 cases with 10 total. Seven police employees have not returned to work due to quarantine measures imposed by the city.
A request for comment from the police department, and other city departments, was directed to Perez who said he was not surprised by the amount of cases from city police.
“It’s the city department with the most amount of employees with more than 200 people in it,” Perez said. “Depending on the situation of the calls they respond to, at all times they are wearing PPE and are out in the field a lot.”
Perez urged people to continue to practice social distancing and wear facial coverings at all times when in public.
The city has taken several measures to protect employees such as making them wear a facial covering at all times when inside a city building and screening them before they enter with a temperature check and wellness questionnaire to ask them if they’ve been in contact with anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19, Perez said.
“Obviously we are taking every exposure of our employees seriously,” Perez said. “We’ve developed and implemented a continuity plan to include exposure, protocols and facilitate strict adherence to testing protocols.”
The city is holding several department meetings through Zoom to avoid in-person contact and to maintain social distancing among employees, Perez said. Employees who test positive for the disease get paid time off under the emergency paid sick leave and must be quarantined for at least 14 days per CDC guidelines and treated before they are allowed to go back to work.
The goal of these safety measures, Perez said, is to ensure city employees continue to serve Mission residents to the best of their abilities.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, we continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of our employees and citizens,” Perez added. “Our focus is to keep them safe, it’s why we have those safety measures in place.”