I-TEAM: Why are city workers going door-to-door during coronavirus pandemic?

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found the City of Cleveland has workers going door-to-door talking about COVID-19 even as experts say people still need to stay apart.

This week, we captured video on the city’s southeast side, but we saw the workers walking side-by-side, travelling to neighborhoods in groups by riding in vans, and sometimes talking to citizens just inches away.

Again, all at a time when state leaders say everyone needs to keep maintaining social distancing.

One city worker could be heard telling a resident, “We’re going door to door to educate the citizens.”

Alma Banks told us workers came to her home Thursday but she didn’t answer.

“I didn’t even open up the door. No contact,” she said. “But, I’m like, that’s kinda weird. Everybody’s supposed to stay at home, so why are they out walking the streets?”

One city worker spoke out telling us the employees going door-to door are worried about their safety.

*Read more investigative stories from the I-TEAM, here.*

“We don’t know who’s infected, who’s not infected. We don’t know anything about the homes of the people we’re going to. They gave us a mask, hand sanitizer and some literature,” she said. “We don’t want to lose our job so that’s why everyone is doing it.”

The I-TEAM learned these workers are employees from recreation centers such as sports instructors and lifeguards.

Now, they’re handing out tips about COVID-19 along with phone numbers that have been all over TV news and websites for months.

We wanted someone from City Hall to explain. But, that’s not happening.

Those workers are going door-to-door talking to strangers while City Hall is closed due to the COVID -19 outbreak. And the Mayor’s office is not making anyone available to answer questions for us.

The worker we met said employees have been getting paid while off the job with the recreation centers closed due to the virus outbreak. Those employees are happy to work but not happy to be put in harm’s way with a contagious, invisible virus still spreading.

“So, our concern is who would have it, and they could possibly pass it on to us. We didn’t sign up for it,” she said.

The I-TEAM checked in with two county health departments and the Ohio Health Department about going door-to-door. All said a key to safety would be maintaining social distancing. Two of the agencies also made special note of the importance of protective equipment such as masks.

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