It’s no surprise that Northumberland County is once more opening its offices for full-time work. After all, the governor’s COVID mitigation plan is ended this week. But such openings are premature. In particular, crisis workers, obligated to remain on-call, go out accompanied by police on mental health and safety calls, yet have not been properly supplied and protected with PPE.

These caseworkers on rotation go out all hours of the day and night into homes and emergency rooms where citizens are not only experiencing mental breakdown but have been asymptomatic carriers of COVID. Caseworkers are exposed to the same risks of police and EMTs on call, yet the county has not supplied caseworkers with N-95 masks or gloves, not prioritized them in the first group for vaccination, nor supplied workers with thorough training.

With a more transmissible strain of the virus now present in our nation, a spike expected three weeks after New Year gatherings, offering only temperature-checks to employees and no comprehensive COVID testing plan is backward thinking. Caseworkers including crisis workers and all social service workers who work with the public and vulnerable, disabled populations deserve better.

Dr. Sharlene Gilman,


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