County approves COVID 19 policy changes


ROBERTSDALE – In an emergency special meeting Friday, March 27, the Baldwin County Commission approved policy changes to help county departments and employees deal with the effects of COVID 19.

Starting April 1, employees will be entitled to 80 hours of sick leave if they fall under the provisions set in the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. The act includes leave if workers are subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation or has been directed to self-quarantine. Leave would also be allowed if the worker has symptoms and is seeking a diagnosis or is caring for a family member under quarantine.

“We’re trying to do our parts to take the steps to try to slow the spread of this or stop the spread of this,” Commission Chairwoman Billie Jo Underwood said.

Commissioner Joe Davis said that during the pandemic, employees will need to be ready to fill in in other positions if co-workers can’t report for duty.

“It’s critical that we work together, that we use this as an opportunity to recognize how important cross training is going to be,” Davis said. “There will be times where people from Department A might need to lend a hand to Department B in order to get critical things done.”

One county employee was reported to have tested positive for COVID 19 and went into self-quarantine. Co-workers were advised of the report and the employee’s workplace was cleaned. The woman did not have a position that put her in contact with the public, according to county officials.

Commissioners praised the work done by employees so far in dealing with the outbreak. Commissioner Charles “Skip” Gruber said the Emergency Management Agency and other departments have done well in dealing with the outbreak.

“I appreciate the work that our EMA has been doing. Not only that all of our employees,” Gruber said. “I think that they are really, really truly working hard to comply with what’s going on and it’s tough. It’s been very tough. But, you know, they’re hanging in there and we’re still providing services.”

Underwood also said county department heads should not attend future meetings unless required to take part. “I know that when these special meetings get called, we all think that we’ve got to be here,” Underwood said. “If you guys, as much as we appreciate all of our staff, if you want to check with us to see if there’s anything that you need to be here for, but this is a public meeting, so we’re not going to tell you to stay away as long as we practice the recommended guidelines that are in place right now.”

The commission also voted to authorize the chair to revise or amend the county planned response to the coronavirus pandemic policy if necessary to comply with federal or state law during the declared emergency.