Norwalk reports COVID-19 outbreak in multiple departments

The+city+of+Norwalk+reported+several+cases+of+coronavirus+in+multiple+city+departments.+Between+Dec.+17+and+Dec.+23%2C+eight+cases+have+been+reported+within+the+city+government.+%0A

Vincent Medina

The city of Norwalk reported several cases of coronavirus in multiple city departments. Between Dec. 17 and Dec. 23, eight cases have been reported within the city government.

Vincent Medina

Five departments in the city of Norwalk reported this week that eight employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since Dec. 17. 

These departments include Social Services, Transit, Community Development, Public Service and Public Safety. 

The Social Services department reported one case on Dec. 17. 

“The case was at the Norwalk Senior Center,” said an employee in the social services department who wished to remain anonymous. 

They stated that senior center employees continue to obey CDC guidelines such as wearing masks and social distancing. The anonymous source also stated that their superiors are being transparent with their employees when somebody tests positive. 

“Employees were notified via text message,” they continued. “The public has not been made aware of the cases within the social services department.” 

The Norwalk Senior Center has been closed to the public since March 13, 2020. Still, they continue to prepare and deliver meals to seniors who would otherwise have no means of food.  

“As an essential business, we will continue to serve the seniors,” they said. “Without us, they might not have a way to eat.” 

Senior Center management declined to comment per HIPAA regulations.

The Transit department reported one case on Dec. 18, one on Dec. 19 and one on Dec. 22. 

The department of Community Development reported one case on Dec. 19, and another on Dec. 20. 

The department of Public Service reported one case on Dec. 21. 

The department of Public Safety reported one case on Dec. 23. 

Each department refused to comment on the city government’s outbreak and forwarded all questions to the Norwalk office of Public Relations. 

An anonymous source with the Social Services department stated that the case reported came from the Norwalk Senior Center. Eight cases total have been reported from five city departments since Dec. 17, 2020. (Vincent Medina)

“The City does not share employee-specific positive case numbers with the public,” said Public Safety Lt. Eric Wosick, acting emergency manager for Norwalk. “We do, however, regularly share the County’s statistics for Norwalk, which include positive case counts.”

Wosick stated that employees are notified via email and text messages when a city employee tests positive. 

“We conduct contract tracing of all employees who test positive,” Wosick said. “Employees who are identified as exposed are required to quarantine. Their quarantine time is paid via Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) or accrual use.” 

Norwalk will also close non-essential city facilities and services from Dec. 28 – Jan. 4, following the surge in cases. 

“Out of concern for the rise in cases across Los Angeles County, and in anticipation of a potential spike following holiday gatherings, the City Council and Management decided to close City Hall and non-essential operations from December 28, 2020, to January 4, 2021,” Wosick stated.

Norwalk has experienced 34 positive cases since March, according to Wosick.

“We do not expect any department’s operations or services will be shut down,” Wosick confirmed. 

La County coronavirus stay-at-home orders are likely to be extended to the end of December.  

“The county will determine the vaccine distribution process in our area. We will await their guidance as to what Norwalk’s role will be,” Wosick said. 

“The city has incorporated CDC guidelines along with State and County Health Department direction when it comes to infection control measures,” said Wosick. “We enforce safety measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing, sanitation protocols, etc..”