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Doctor voices concern over bringing back county employees too soon

Posted at 6:19 AM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 10:51:33-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - KGUN-9 obtained a memorandum from County Administrator, Chuck Huckleberry, addressed to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, saying when Governor Ducey’s order gets lifted, all county employees who have been telecommuting are expected to return to work.

"Pima County forcing all their employees who are safely and efficiently able to work at home, I think, in many cases. Back into offices and cramped working spaces where they could be potentially exposed to the virus that's not good," says Hospitalist, Dr. Matt Heinz.

These return-to-work guidelines say if an employee has concerns about their health or a family member's, they have to get what’s called a “Medical Provider Attestation” form signed by a doctor.

"Trying to get into see your primary care provider for the people that are allowed to continue to telecommute, they have to get like a doctor's note from one of us? Good luck. It's hard," says Heinz. "I'm not saying that we would not be willing to do it. Of course, their primary care provider would want to help them with that, after objecting to them being forced to go back into the workplace. But it's hard."

Those workers will then be required to use comp time, vacation, or sick leave for their time away. If they can’t provide one of those documents, they will have to work without pay. And even though this document urges supervisors to observe social distancing once workers get back into the building, doctors say it’s not just about risks to the employees.

"What about if, say, a county employee has a spouse who has diabetes and heart disease. Well, that person is exposed by way of their spouse having to go back to the workplace, right," says Heinz.

Read the entire memorandum below, including more of the proposed return-to-work strategies and options county supervisors will have when it comes to their employees, or visit this link.