Board declines vote to have county employees cover COVID testing

A vote that would require county employees to pay for COVID testing with their own money did not pass during the Washington County Board meeting last week.

The discussion marked the second month in a row that the county has brought up protocol in testing county employees.

Vice Chairman Gary Suedmeyer said the Finance Committee had recommended to put the plan in place ahead of time for when the state fores 

“The thought is basically we did not mandate the vaccine,” Suedmeyer said. “They would have to be tested on a weekly basis.

Board member Rodney Small rejected the notion right away, adding he had believed that funds from the American Rescue Plan Act could be set aside 

“I thought they were taking care of that,” Small said.

County officials also questioned when federal OSHA guidelines were going to be handed down.  

“The rules aren’t out there yet,” Board member Eric Brammeier said. “If we are giving people the option and not mandating anything, then it’s their choice.”

Emergency Management Administrator Matt Bierman said Washington County Hospital has quoted the testing to cost approximately $70 — $20 for the test and $50 for the administration. At the present time, the county has not received any bills from the hospital regarding COVID testing.

Currently the only county employees who are subjected to mandated vaccination status or weekly testing. Ambulance Services Administrator John Felicia said there are two employees who are currently requesting testing instead of getting vaccinated.

The vote failed 4-5 with Vic Shubert voting present.

In other county board news:

  • The county awaits findings from the state regarding its dispatch services. Alan Hohlt informed the board in September that a plan had to be submitted about the county’s dispatch administration and 24-hour compliance. Sheriff Len Campbell said during the meeting that he also plans on being part of the discussions.
  • A request to put a part-time EMA secretary to full time status did not pass.
  • An ambulance crew has returned from deployment after being sent to New Orleans. The crew spent 34 days in Louisiana, and the county will receive a $157,000 reimbursement payment, Shubert said.
  • A hearing for a TIF District in Ashley will be held in November.
  • Ambulance bought two mobile ventilators for $34,725.
  • A county budget will be completed soon and put on display by Oct. 25. 
  • The Locust Street Bridge reconstruction has completed

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