Sunflower County employees who have been out due to the COVID-19 pandemic will know sooner than later how the county plans to proceed when it comes to furloughs.
County Administrator Fred Washington was tasked this week with drafting a plan for a safe return to work for employees who have been out for long periods of time due to illness or precautions related to the virus.
He will present this plan during the board’s next meeting on Jan. 19.
Board Attorney Johnny McWilliams reminded the board that unlike the CARES Act passed in the spring, the latest round of stimulus does not include assistance to state and county governments.
“I know of no assistance to state or local governments, nothing like what was in the first one, the CARES Act,” McWilliams said.
Most of the board agreed that there needs to be some kind of plan to bring employees back to work safely, which would include having them mask up, social distance and wash their hands regularly.
While the two COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and deployed, District 5 Supervisor Gloria Dickerson questioned whether the return to work should be predicated on employees receiving the vaccine.
Board President Riley Rice said he was in favor of calling every employee back into work.
“I’m 77 years old, and I’m still coming up here and I’m social distancing, wearing a mask and washing my hands,” Rice said. “What the employees for the county are going to have to do, they’re going to have to do the same thing. You can’t keep them on there for two years…Here’s my suggestion. Let’s bring them all back to work. Bring every one of them back to work and let them social distance, wear their mask and keep washing their hands. That’s the way they do at Dollar General, all these people. We can’t be any nicer to the workers than we are to the taxpayers. We were elected to manage this money right, and God is going to take care of all of us. We were elected to manage this money, not to take care of people. God is going to take care of them.”
The board eventually voted in favor of authorizing Washington to draft a plan to be presented to the board, with hopes of implementing it before March 1.