8. April 2020 – Day One at the District Office of Heilbronn County

District Office of Heilbronn County
  • Infected (cum.): 579
  • Deceased: 11

According to Ministry of Social Affairs

7:55 am. How do you enter the building? All entrances are closed. A phone call to the secretary says employees use a side entrance next to the parking garage. Otherwise there is another entrance, but only for clients with a pre-arranged appointment. The office has barricaded itself in view of the immense new tasks in the fight against COVID-19. Apparently this has never been done before.

Then, appointment in the personnel department. This is quick for civil servants, three statements on data protection, loyalty to the constitution and the use of official cars of the office. And not to forget the chip for the time recording. That is all there is to it.

The Health Department is located in a side wing. The first impression: „How many people work here?“. It’s like in a dovecote. Altogether it seems to be well over 80 people. Most of them are busy with the official orders circling around the containment of the coronavirus.

Four case investigation teams work in parallel. After the first stormy weeks, new structures are now being created, into which I am to be integrated. Many employees have joined from other departments. One team leader was previously with the water department, others were employed in the fine department. These are colourful teams, but all of them are united by the ability and the will to work together. It’s fascinating to see how directly communication is lived. But the exhaustion is also evident. A lot of work is done here, but the constant occupation with new challenges is demanding.

The first day is hell, so many names and faces you meet and an incredible amount of paper to read. The general decree of the district, the announcements of the Robert Koch Institute, the forms and so on.

A small secretariat is the starting point for all activities. Most e-mails and incoming faxes are processed centrally here. Flipchart sheets on the wall show the positive test reports on the corona virus that have been received so far. Here it becomes visible that behind every number there is an affected person who is very real. It is also clear that nobody is allowed in this room without a reason.

The day is going by like nothing. The outcome of the first day: a flow chart summarising the discharge criteria of the Robert Koch Institute.

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