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City Council Poised to Approve COVID-Related Contracts

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By Jorge Casuso

August 17, 2022 -- Santa Monica City government is expected to remain in COVID mode with continued testing, contact tracing and remote meetings for most Boards and Commissions.

The City Council on Tuesday is poised to approve a $115,000 contract for citywide employee testing and a $150,000 contract for "employee COVID-19 contact tracing and internal healthcare advisement."

Both contracts would be awarded without a traditional competitive bidding process, and the money spent would be eligible for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Council also is expected to approve a resolution that gives City government bodies the option to hold remote meetings.

Under the proposed agreement for testing services, Dr. Fawad Zafar Khan (dba USMD Direct) would continue to administer testing to determine if employees "can continue working, return to work or to confirm an on-site infection, according to a report to the Council from staff.

Under CalOSHA and LA County Public Health orders, "persons who are present within a facility where a COVID-19 outbreak was detected, were provided an opportunity to conduct testing on-site at no cost to the employee," according to staff.

During the height of the pandemic, the City deployed approximately 1,100 tests to employees who sought testing, staff said.

Under a proposed contract for contact tracing, Keystone Medical Resources, Inc will continue to provide the services initiated in November "with the COVID-19 Omicron variant outbreak."

Keystone, which was already providing health services for the City, has "the specific skills and healthcare training necessary to determine 'close contacts,' quarantine, and isolation protocols for City staff."

"Contact tracing was mandated for employees required to work on-site and potentially exposed to COVID-19," staff wrote. Approximately 2,000 City employees have access to the emergency service.

Also on Tuesday's consent calendar is a resolution making the findings required to provide teleconference meetings of the City Council and City Boards, Commissions and Task Forces through September 24.

Staff cites the rapid spread of a highly contagious, though less fatal, Omicron subvarient for keeping the option open.

"While not experiencing the high case levels and positivity rates as seen during the height of the winter surge," there are "continued threats to health and safety posed by indoor public meetings with large attendance," staff wrote.

Although the required resolution authorizes all Boards and Commissions to continue to meet remotely, a Board or Commission "can affirmatively decide to meet in person, just as the City Council decided for itself," staff said.

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