TEMPLE, Texas — The city of Temple announced Wednesday it would close several city facilities, including the library and Hillcrest Cemetery office, after seeing a sharp spike in city employee COVID-19 cases along with an increase in the local community. The City of Temple had 25 employees test positive for COVID-19 in the last 30 days. That's now more than half of the 43 employee cases since march.
The Bell County Public Health District reported 985 active cases Wednesday and 109 deaths. The county was at a threat level two, which is defined as significant uncontrolled community transmission.
“We are seeing an increase in positive cases among city staff, so we want to remain proactive in our efforts to ensure the health and safety of our employees and our community,” City Manager Brynn Myers said. “This decision was made to protect our community and our staff, and to do our part to help prevent community spread. Our intent is to minimize the chance of spreading the virus.”
The list of facilities closing includes the following:
- Municipal Building/City Hall
- Human Resources
- Temple Public Library
- Historic Post Office
- Parks and Recreation Administration Building
- Public Works Service Center
- Hillcrest Cemetery Office
- Utility Business Office/Municipal Court
The closure is not a city-wide mandate and only applies to certain city facilities. Citizens can still access existing drive-thru services and conduct business with the city by phone and online. In some cases that requires an in-person meeting, citizens can make an appointment with the city if there is a staff member available that has been cleared by the city.
“As we head into the holidays, we want to take measures to keep our community and staff safe,” Myers said. “By telecommuting during this time, we reduce the potential for community spread and hopefully impact the virus’ transmission at a critical time.”
Of the total 43 positive employee cases among city staff since March, 56 percent of those cases occurred in the last 30 days.
“While telecommuting, we will operate at full capacity and will continue to provide services to our community,” Myers said. “We will continue to closely monitor the data and if we see an individual facility, office or team with an increased rate of infection or exposure, we will implement additional measures specific for that area.”
The city will require employees who have been identified as able to telecommute to do so to the greatest extent possible. If telecommuting is not feasible, staff will enforce strict compliance with safety guidelines including social distancing, hand washing and use of face coverings.
“We are committed to protecting the health of our staff and our community,” Myers said. “It is in staff and the public’s best interest that we renew these measures.”