City of Houston departments and offices face staffing issues amid COVID outbreak


HOUSTON – As omicron cases continue to rise, the City of Houston reports that several city departments and offices are facing staffing issues.

The Houston Emergency Center or HEC, which provides 24/7 911 emergency services, said the variant took its toll on 911 operators.

“A lot of times it’s not necessarily that they’ve tested positive, but we’re waiting for the test results,” Houston Emergency Center Director Robert Mock said. “So, [at] at any one time we could have 10-15 people on protocol waiting to see if they test positive. »

Mock said that because of the impact on his service in particular, healthy 911 operators would be working overtime on New Year’s Eve.

“We called more people,” Mock said. “Some people had New Year’s Eve, so we canceled some days off to be more personal, and again we’re triaging calls to quickly weed out people security calls and dispatch them.”

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Mock added that HEC was already facing shortage issues due to hiring issues, but felt his department was ready to take every call and had a plan if it became overwhelmed.

“We have rolling capacity,” he said. “If we are supported, the county takes over for us and vice versa.”

At a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner said 311, a consolidated call center designed for residents to get information about city services and report non-emergency situations, also handles issues similar.

District A Councilor Amy Peck called the issue concerning, but said there are other ways to report issues to the city.

“If people can’t get into 311 by calling, they can use the app. They can email, or they can contact 311 through the website, and of course they can contact their city council members as well, she said. “If any of my constituents can pass, they can certainly contact our office and we can come in. [the information] in 311 for them,” Peck said.

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The City of Houston has asked residents to be patient and only call 911 for true emergencies.

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