Greetings Hennepin County Workers-

Because of how quickly the Coronavirus/COVID-19 is changing, I wanted to provide an update from the past few days. We are expecting more information from County Administration later today; we will continue to update you and advocate for Hennepin County workers and the public as quickly as we can.

In the past few days, alongside other Hennepin County AFSCME leaders, I have met with Commissioners Fernando and Goettel, as well as cleaning staff and library supervisors and managers at Central Library, and the Director of the Service Centers.

Management continues to hold planning meetings and delay decisions, as frontline staff wait and continue to work with no direction on how to protect themselves and the public from unnecessary exposure to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of this lack of action or direction, and based on recommendations of the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Minnesota Department of Health, we are advising workers to stay at home if they are sick or “have just mild symptoms of COVID-19”:

  • Fever (even low-grade fever of 99.14 F)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

In addition, we are strongly advising that any workers with underlying health conditions, especially in public-facing roles, stay home. High risk workers include:

  • People 60 and older;
  • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
  • People who have weakened immune systems; and
  • People who are pregnant.

We are closely monitoring the situation and may be advocating for reduced services and/or building closures if no protective actions are taken. We need to take preventive measures now to slow down the spread of the virus. We want to ensure the safety of our workers and the communities we serve. We will continue to push County leadership, but we need EVERYONE to speak out, for each other, and for the public good.

Call or Email your Hennepin County Commissioners and Hennepin County Administrator David Hough now and demand:


Workers will come to work sick until they know their leave will be paid and they will not be disciplined. This jeopardizes not only workers but also our community members. Everyone, including intermittent workers, subs, interns, grant-funded works and contracted workers, should be paid special leave when sick, quarantined, or staying home to care for others or because of building closures and not have to use banked Vacation/Sick/PTO.  Minnesota State workers have been granted paid administrative leave that exceeds workers’ existing leave balances.


Our workplaces are not safe. We have no routine disinfecting practices and limited supplies. We need building specific plans for disinfecting of all workspace surfaces and objects. We need immediate remote work for those who can. We also have no guidelines on what to do if a member of the public comes to our buildings and exhibits symptoms.


Management has refused to offer us the meeting times for the County’s COVID-19 Preparedness Committee which is leading response efforts.


Find your Commissioner: https://www.hennepin.us/your-government/leadership/find-commissioner

County Administrator David Hough:        612- 348-7574        [email protected]

District 1            Mike Opat                      612-348-7881               [email protected]

District 2            Irene Fernando             612-348-7882             [email protected]

District 3            Marion Greene           612-348-7883               [email protected]

District 4           Angela Conley               612-348-7884               [email protected]

District 5           Debbie Goettel             612-348-7885               [email protected]

District 6           Jan Callison                    612-348-7886               [email protected]

District 7           Jeff Johnson                  612-348-7887               [email protected]


Follow these guidelines at work, based on recommendations by World Health Organization and the CDC:

  • Wash hands every hour with hot water and soap for 20 seconds
  • Maintain a “social distance” of 6 feet when interacting with others.
  • Clean public-facing employee workstations (ex. service desks) every hour.
  • Don't touch your face.
  • Wear clean clothes every day.
  • Limit physical contact: don’t shake hands, hug
  • Limit number of times you are handling objects, disinfect pens after each use
  • Limit unnecessary trips outside of home and work

Please let us know what is going on in your specific worksite and how you need support.

Reply to this email or reach out to [email protected]

In solidarity,

Ali Fuhrman,
President, AFSCME Local 2822

Additional Information:

From World Health Organization Website


 What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

 “The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.”

Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19


 “Brief your employees, contractors and customers that if COVID-19 starts spreading in your community anyone with even a mild cough or low-grade fever (37.3 C or more) needs to stay at home. They should also stay home (or work from home) if they have had to take simple medications, such as paracetamol/acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, which may mask symptoms of infection. Keep communicating and promoting the message that people need to stay at home even if they have just mild symptoms of COVID-19.” [Low grade fever 37.3C is 99.14 F]