Carter Commission provides for continued pay for county employees who are quarantined

John Thompson • Mar 17, 2020 at 9:25 PM

ELIZABETHTON — It has been a long time since the Carter County Commission devoted hours of its meeting to discussions of how to respond to the challenge of a disease.

Certainly such discussions must have been a part of meetings during the polio epidemic of the 1940s and 1950s and the flu epidemic of 1918-1919. But Monday night’s discussion on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was the first such discussion held by the commission in the memory of even its oldest members.

There were discussions on how to keep offices in the courthouse from becoming infected. The commissioners replied that the offices exist to do the public’s business, but discussed ways in which routine matters can be accomplished by mail and email and drop boxes. 

The longest discussion of the night was over how to be financially supportive of employees who would be quarantined for getting a postive test for COVID-19 or becoming sick with the virus. After a 30-minute discussion, the commissioners approved a plan to allow such an employee to receive his or her regular salary for 14 working days. If the employee is still sick, another 14 days of pay may be provided before using sick leave and annual leave. 

The commission also passed a resolutoin intended to raise awareness of how COVID-19 is spread and preventive measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid infection.

The resolution said in part: “To help prevent the spread of this virus and other respiratory diseases the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that individuals should avoiding close contact (being within 6 feet) of people who are sick, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, cover their cough/sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe; washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, if soap and water are not readily available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, and most importantly stay at home when they are sick.”

The commissioners also handled several matters unrelated to disease. One matter which has caused arguments by some members of the public was about some proposals on the treatment of working dogs. The commission also passed a resolution in support of the protection of individual rights of Carter County citizens to hunt and fish and recognizing the economic importance of these activities in Tennessee.

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