BY HANNAH LESTER
The Lee County Commission agreed to re-enact COVID-19 policies amidst a rise in cases in different departments.
“The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has become a significant risk to those who are unvaccinated because being highly contagious and now transmittable thru those who have been vaccinated,” said County Administrator Roger Rendleman, in a memorandum to the commission. “Within the last two weeks, almost every Appointing Authority has had a department with entire groups of employees exposed or sickened by COVID with most of those employees not being vaccinated.”
Rendleman temporarily reenacted policies for county employees on Aug. 4, but brought them before the commission Monday for approval.
Employees are now required to wear a face covering, whether that be a mask or shield, indoors.
“We need to minimize the risk of exposure and particular the amount and time of that exposure,” the policies state. “Since we have no idea who has or who hasn’t been vaccinated, we need to unfortunately go back to some level of masking and distancing.”
The policies also state that personnel should, if they test positive for COVID-19 and exhibit symptoms, return to work after ten days of first symptoms. Additionally, employees will need to not have had fever for 24 hours and shown improvement in COVID-19 symptoms.
If the employee is not showing symptoms, then they can return to work after 10 days of a positive test.
Should the employee be hospitalized, they will follow the conditions for showing symptoms, but return to work ten days after hospital release.
The county is asking anyone who is unvaccinated and comes in contact with someone with COVID-19 to quarantine for seven days if they receive a negative COVID-19 test, and 10 days if they take no test.
Additionally, quarantine will be unnecessary if the employee has had COVID-19 within three months, recovered and has no symptoms.
The commission also agreed to add 80 hours of sick leave to every employee balance. The commission also permanently raised the maximum cap for sick leave balances from 1040 hours to 1120.
Probate Judge Bill English said that he has three employees currently out.
American Rescue Plan Funds:
Lee County has received $32 million from the federal government and local organizations want a slice of the pie.
Each meeting, a new group or organization approaches the commission to ask how the funding will be spent and to throw their name in for consideration.
Monday night, District 2 Commission Sarah Brown, said that she thinks it is time to share with the county some information on how things will be decided moving forward.
“I wanted to put this on the agenda tonight, so we could really talk about our plan and process,” Brown said. “I believe there’s been a lot of questions from people in the community and we’ve had quite a few people that have come and are asking for money and asking for funds.”
The commission has discussed infrastructure (water, sewer, broadband), public safety and community aid as the top three priorities right now, Brown said.
“I think our first priority should be to talk with our current departments,” she said.
The county may wait on approving any broadband projects, given the state of Alabama has shown potential to provide that aid to the state, Brown said.
“Us putting in money toward that when we possibly will be getting that from Alabama, I think we’re all in a waiting game for that,” she said. “But I wanted people to understand that we know that that’s a priority.”
Brown said she believes the commission should wait until the budget process is finalized before addressing the federal funds.
However, the commission, once the budget process is done, would like to have an organized list of all interested organizations.
Brown said she discussed with District 1 Commissioner Doug Cannon the idea of a one-sheet that each organization representative would use to list who they are, what they are asking for, what the organization does for Lee County and how the need is COVID-19 or pandemic related.
“It’s time that we do have a plan of action for the use of the allotted money so it’s great to see that we’re coming up with a plan,” said District 5 Commissioner Richard LaGrand. “So the one-sheet is a great tool.”
District 4 Commissioner Robert Ham reiterated the sentiment that Cannon expressed a few weeks back — the commissioners want the money to last and to be able to see visible results fifteen years down the line.
English also said that having organization to the process will help the commissioners better evaluate which organizations they want to support.
The commission agreed that each member would think of what they would like the one-sheet to include, which already has the following:
– Who the organization is
– What the organization does for the community
– What the organization’s greatest needs are COVID-19, pandemic or preparation related
– Goals and objectives
– A timeline
– Requested money
– Impact evaluation
“This is an unprecedented opportunity and I think we all know and understand the significance of it,” Brown said.
– The commission approved an educational reimbursement request from Online Price’s office.
– The commission approved a retail beer and retail table wine license application for The Quick.
– The commission approved a special events retail license application for Legacy at Serenity Farms.
– The commission approved the Rebuild Alabama Act and County Transportation Plan.
– The commission approved a speed limit reduction for Lee Road 319.
– The commission approved a timber sale at the location for the new highway department.
– The commission also heard a report for the establishment of 25 MPH Speed Zone in all of the Lee County subdivisions, which the commission will vote on during the next meeting.