COVID-19 Resources for Employees
Listed below are resources and guiding information for county employees as we work through and look beyond the Coronavirus pandemic.
Workplace and Telework Information
- Use of Face Masks in County Facilities
In compliance with State directives and guidance provided by the CDC, all County employees (and other individuals) are required to wear face masks while in County office buildings, facilities, vehicles, and other work areas.
The Office of Personnel has issued COVID-19 Employee Face Mask Guidance, FAQ's, and Face Mask Guidance flyer with important details on this requirement below.From the Office of Central Services Division of Risk Management below.
- Employee Guide on COVID-19Important information for Employees Who are Ill, Become Ill or Have Close Contact with Someone Who May Have COVID-19
- Telework Webinars
- Telework AgreementThe following terms and conditions of this Telework Agreement govern the arrangement for the Employee’s performing work at a remote workplace. Please complete and submit to your supervisor.
- Updated Telework GuidanceThis document is meant to provide guidance to employees, supervisors, and managers to promote efficient and effective telework during the COVID-19 pandemic and as the County gradually returns to onsite operations. This Telework Guidance supersedes the Telework Policy set forth in Section H-12 of the Employee Relations Manual until further notice.
- Managing Anxiety While Working RemotelyAs more businesses are going remote to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, many workers are faced with working from home for the first time.
- Working at Home With KidsMany parents are finding themselves working from home for the very first time in their professional lives as businesses work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With schools and childcare facilities also closing, these new remote workers are also dealing with the challenge of working with kids in their new office: the home.
Health and Benefits
- Change in Benefit Documentation Requirement in Response to COVID-19
As you are aware the COVID-19 pandemic has closed many government buildings as people have been asked to practice social distancing and telework. Due to this fact, we understand that you may need additional time to get your dependent documents: birth certificates, social security cards and marriage certificates.
We understand that birth certificates and social security cards are being generated for newborns but with limited staff this may be delayed. Therefore, we are extending our 31 day deadline from the effective date of the event (i.e. birth, hire date, termination, loss of coverage, etc.). Notification of the life event must still be made within 31 days. Additionally, we will accept signed birth notices and marriage licenses during this state of emergency to add dependents. All required documentation (birth certificates and SSN cards) must be received within 30 days after the state of emergency is lifted for the state of Maryland.
We will continue to follow-up for the required paperwork and allow the extra time, but please be mindful that you will need to submit the documentation or your dependents would be dropped from coverage and any paid claims may be reversed. If you have any questions, please email the Benefits Team at [email protected] or call at (410) 222-7400.
- Our Vendors Respond to COVID-19
COVID-19 (Coronavirus 2019) has become more prevalent in the United States, Maryland and now in Anne Arundel County. The County is closely monitoring information shared by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and our own Department of Health and Office of Emergency Management. All County agencies are working closely to focus on preparations and continuity of operations.
Our health vendors are equally committed to the health and safety of our members during this pandemic.
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst)
First, anyone with symptoms should first call their PCP to discuss their symptoms and treatment options. Carefirst members also have two 24/7 options to receive care outside a provider’s office – a 24-hour Nurse Advice Line and CareFirst Video Visit.
- 24-hour Nurse Advice Line – Members can call 800-535-9700 anytime to speak with a registered nurse to discuss their symptoms and get recommendations for the most appropriate care.
- CareFirst Video Visit – Members can also register for CareFirst Video Visit to securely connect with a doctor, day or night, through their smartphone, tablet or computer – and no appointment necessary.
Effective March 6, 2020, CareFirst has made important benefit updates to remove cost and other barriers to ensure all of our members have access to necessary care.
CareFirst has determined that the benefit changes described below are necessary to address the outbreak.
- CareFirst will cover medically necessary diagnostic tests that are consistent with CDC guidance related to COVID-19 without member cost share. CareFirst will cover, with no cost share* to the member, the appropriate medically necessary diagnostic testing for COVID-19, where it is not covered as part of the Public Health Service response, and ensure patient testing and any subsequently needed care are done in close coordination with federal, state and public health authorities.
- CareFirst has eliminated prior authorization requirements for diagnostic tests and covered services that are medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidance for members diagnosed with COVID-19. Additionally, members can call the customer service phone number on the back of their member ID card for help with questions related to medical services.
CVS Health (Caremark)
- Encouraging Members to Refill Maintenance Medications. CVS knows that access to needed medication is important to our plan members during the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. We encourage plan members who have long-term maintenance medications to refill eligible maintenance prescriptions for 90-day supplies, or up to the plan’s maximum quantity. We hope to have this in place by April 1st or sooner.
- Relaxing Refill Restrictions. CVS Caremark is waiving early refill limits on 30-day prescriptions for maintenance medications at any in-network pharmacy. Relaxing refill-too-soon limitations allows members to fill maintenance medication prescriptions ahead of their normal fill schedule to ensure members are able to maintain an adequate supply of medication on hand. Opioids and specialty drugs are excluded. We hope to have this in place by April 1st or sooner.
- Free Home Delivery from CVS Pharmacy. Beginning immediately, CVS Pharmacy will waive charges for home delivery of all prescription medications. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraging people at higher risk for COVID-19 complications to stay at home as much as possible, this is a convenient option to avoid coming to the pharmacy for refills or new prescriptions.
If you have any questions about these changes please feel free to contact CareFirst at 1-800-628-8549 or CVS/Caremark at 1-866-409-8521.
As always, please feel free to contact the Benefits Team at [email protected] or (410) 222-7400 if you have further questions.
- Your Health Care FSA Changes During COVID-19OTC EXPENSES NOW ELIGIBLE FOR HSA, FSA, HRA REIMBURSEMENT
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, which permanently reinstates coverage of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medicines as eligible for reimbursement from Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) without need for a prescription. It further expands the definition of qualified OTC items to include menstrual care products. This change is effective for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020.
If you have any questions, please email the Benefits Team at [email protected] or call at 410-222-7400.
- Your Dependent Care FSA during COVID-19
Many of you may have elected the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and with school, day care and/or adult day care centers being closed you’re wondering if you can make a change to your elections.
Yes, you absolutely can. If you’ve experienced a decrease or increase in daycare costs due to COVID-19 this would be a qualifying event that justifies and allows you to decrease or increase your annual election. The lowest you could decrease your election to would be to the total they have contributed year to date.
Example: If you elected $5,000 and I already have contributed $500, the lowest you could decrease your annual election to is $500. The total amount contributed.
You can also increase the election amount again if/when your daycare expenses increase.
If you would like to make changes to your dependent care FSA or if have any questions, please email the Benefits Team at [email protected] or call at 410-222-7400.
- EAP Resources to Help you Navigate This Pandemic
The current COVID-19 pandemic has affected all County employees in many different ways. Some of you may be experiencing schedule changes, school closures and a new teleworking environment. We understand. We’re in this together.
That’s why we wanted to remind you of our Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) program. EAP allows you and/or your family members to get 4 FREE consultations. All consultations are confidential. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed there are many resources available to help you navigate this and any challenging situation you may be feeling.
This program is provided by Business Health Services (BHS). You can access their resources by calling 800-327-2251 or online at https://portal.bhsonline.com (password AAC). Our EAP is able and willing to help with many problems including:
- Work-Life Balances
- Stress Management
- Family Problems
Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns at 410-222-7400 or [email protected]
Below are flyers for your quick access and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) resource: Coping with a Traumatic Event and COVID-19 Facts.
- EAP Resources for the Next Normal
A pandemic is a powerful, disruptive force, and COVID-19 has proven to be as catastrophic for businesses, communities, and the lifestyles people enjoy as it can be for one’s health. Of course, there are preparations that can be made to mitigate the overall impact a pandemic can have, but it's difficult to predict how long and how devastating a pandemic will be when there is so much disagreement over the best ways to respond and when those responses will be activated.
Americans across the country are wondering when their lives will return to a sense of normalcy and trying to determine what the new normal will look like when the nation climbs out from underneath the weight of this health emergency. With the various challenges COVID-19 has created, it may not be a new normal that people find but the next normal.
Right now, there are multiple emergencies that are shaping how lives are lived. These emergencies will not be resolved all at once, but in phases that can extend over varying lengths of time. This means that you may find one crisis coming to an end while many others still exist and continue to impact your daily living needs for weeks or months to come. This can keep you in a protracted state of uncertainty and anxiety, which can cause you to overlook that some areas of your life may have actually improved over time.
The next normal is the period between a resolved crisis and facing one or more of many ongoing emergencies. It is a time for acknowledging the removal of one crisis and using that extra emotional freedom to start to prepare for accepting, overcoming, or adapting to the effects of the next round of instability or trauma. There may be many rounds ahead and many new emergencies that develop, but you can find ways to work through what is happening and feel the sense of personal success that comes from not letting the pandemic and its associated emergencies take full control of your life.
Here are five recommendations for finding the next normal today and in the future:
1. Allow yourself to grieve
Extreme changes in your life can be traumatic and produce emotions that are on par with the loss of a loved one or a dear friend. This is a normal and acceptable emotional response, and you should give yourself the room you need to grieve for what has been lost or altered as a result of this moment. There are resources and programs available to help you through the grieving process, so you can accept what has happened on your own terms and emotionally prepare yourself for moving forward when your grief begins to subside. Many services are available that have online and telephonic support, so you can safely work through your grief while maintaining a safe distance.
2. Accept, forgive & forget
Accept the changes and challenges in your life that you can accept. Forgive the mistakes or missteps that may have been made in the past. Acknowledge the things that you cannot accept or forgive and then let yourself forget them. This process will help you let go of the worry, frustration, anger, and the things that are simply outside of your control that may prevent you from being able to move forward with your life. Do not expect this process to happen overnight. Time, patience, and a conscious effort to step forward are your best tools to work through this recommendation.
3. Learn to be flexible
Flexibility is your greatest ally right now. Your life may be in a constant state of change from one day to the next, and the opportunities that appear during the pandemic to help sustain you or aid in your recovery may require you to step outside of your comfort zone, learn new skills, or give up old habits that defined your life before COVID-19. The more rigid you are in your response to the challenges you face now, the more difficult it may be to find the resources that will help you prepare for and adapt to the next normal that follows. As there is always the possibility for this situation to take a turn for the worse, the sooner you can exercise your flexibility, the earlier you can put into place the elements that will help strengthen your personal defenses against further disaster.
4. Practice mindfulness
You may not immediately be aware of it, but your life might actually be better off than someone else’s right now. You may still be employed, you may have enough set aside to pay your bills for several more months to come, you may not have had any family members or friends sickened by this illness. While there are those who will always have an easier time coping with situations like this, there are also those who are truly struggling in ways you may not comprehend. Take stock of your life, the resources you have, and the opportunities available to you, and use that awareness to help you recognize where you are in your response and recovery process. Engaging with mindfulness can help you predict and plan for new challenges, understand your limits, and identify the areas where you can make improvements to better stabilize and disaster-proof your life.
5. Prepare for the next normal that follows
The only certainty in life is change. What you’re experiencing right now is going to become something else at some point, and you can’t always control what that next phase of this crisis will look like. Life may become easier for you or it may seem harder than before. Take what you’ve learned up to this point—from the positive decisions you made and from the mistakes you wish you avoided—and use that information to help you become as prepared as possible. Being better prepared will help you feel more resilient and more in command of your life in the face of the periods of uncertainty that will surely appear again and again in the future.
BHS is Here for You
The Employee Assistance Program provides you and your household members with 24/7 confidential support to help with personal or work-related problems that interfere with feeling your best. When you need someone to talk to, help is just a phone call away. Call 800-327-2251 to speak with a Care Coordinator today.
- Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder ProgramsFew jobs are as mentally and physically stressful as that of a first responder. The constant pressure can be exhausting and take a toll on your mental health.
Employee Leave Information
- Updated FAQs on COVID-19 and Employee LeavePlease read the attached Updated FAQs and Notice to Employees for important new information about employee leave during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Administrative Leave Memo Update & FAQsPlease read the attached important message and FAQs from the CAO Ben Birge regarding administrative leave as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- COVID-19 Emergency Leave Request Forms
Employee Training Opportunities
- AACC - More Free Webinars - Live Online Training
Anne Arundel Community College has added more free webinars that are available to county employees. We strongly encourage you to take a look at the subjects offered. In particular, there are webinar topics that are helpful for employees working remotely and for those trying to supervise teleworking employees. Most of the webinars are an hour or less, and you can sign up through the AACC website, starting with the link below.