June 15th officially marks the reopening of California’s economy, with most businesses returning to pre-pandemic operations. I say “reopening,” but here at the County of Nevada we never closed. While we modified many services to protect staff and residents, County government and services have remained open and, in many cases, have been strengthened by the changes COVID-19 required of us.
As we look toward June 15th, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the impacts on County services and how we plan to move forward.
How We Adapted
Serving the community is our top priority. To slow the spread of COVID, we encouraged staff who could work remotely to do so without compromising our commitment to providing outstanding customer service.
During COVID, our County buildings and many of our counter services remained open. Our organization learned to adapt to new models of service delivery with expanded services available online and in-person. We increased automated services, enhanced our online presence, and implemented lobby management systems to reduce wait times and crowds.
Some departments, such as the Sheriff’s Office and Public Works, never went remote.
While COVID created many challenges, it also gave us the opportunity to adapt as an organization.
Here are just a few of the creative solutions I am proud to say were spearheaded by County staff:
- Together with community partners we launched the Nevada County Relief Fund, which leveraged County dollars with private contributions to award over $1 million in micro-grants to small businesses to help them keep their doors open. We now have this community resource for relief during a large-scale emergency like a wildfire.
- We quickly activated our Disaster Service Workers to connect residents to basic needs like groceries, shelter, and PPE and extended activation of our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate response efforts. We are now better prepared to scale County operations in a disaster.
- We found creative solutions to support community institutions and organizations, like the partnership to create a Youth Hub to support our local students, the Nevada County Fairgrounds, and Bright Futures for Youth.
- We began weekly Public Information Officer (PIO) Team meetings with local jurisdictions, agencies, and community partners to share information and ensure that we provided accurate, up-to-date information with our residents.
- We forged and strengthened relationships and coordination between partners in Eastern and Western Nevada County, breaking down the divide between our communities and addressing shared challenges as a team.
All of this was made possible by the creativity, commitment, and collaboration of our community partners. I feel incredibly fortunate to live and work in a community that comes together in times of crisis.
Beginning June 15th, we will reopen full counter services countywide and resume holding public meetings in the Board Chambers, following the most recent guidance from the California Department of Public Health. During COVID, we expanded opportunities for the public to address the Board using e-comment and call-ins, which will both continue. The health and safety of our community and staff remain a top priority for Supervisors and staff.
The pandemic illuminated the many benefits of remote work for our organization, including increased productivity and improved County services. Staff became proficient in new telework technologies, which we will continue to use going forward. We are committed to a high-performance work culture to deliver excellent public service that our residents expect and deserve. We continually seek to improve the way we conduct business most efficiently.
While there is no denying the past year's challenges, it has also increased our resiliency and ability to adapt. We're ready to handle whatever comes our way and welcome new challenges or opportunities. We are better prepared to scale operations during emergency events with the deployment of disaster service workers. We have stronger coordination than ever with our local jurisdictions - from East to West. I could not be prouder of how our team stepped up, adapted, and provided critical resources, leadership, and services during this unprecedented and ongoing event.