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Carroll County employees working during COVID-19 pandemic will soon be expected to submit wellness checks

A thermometer will soon be an important piece of equipment for Carroll County government employees.

The Board of County Commissioners on Thursday agreed to implement a wellness check policy for employees who physically come to work even during the coronavirus pandemic, after some debate over how detailed the county should be in the information it requires .

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Doug Brown, deputy director of public works, offered an online survey to screen employees’ health, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, during the pandemic of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The first survey he presented included questions of what is the employee’s temperature, whether an employee has a fever, if they exhibited symptoms, and if they were in contact with anyone who exhibited symptoms. An employee would take the survey daily before reporting to work, and if they answer yes to any of the questions, the survey directs them to stay home, isolate and contact human resources.

Brown said the data would be collected by the county government and treated as confidential, but be used to help trace anyone an employee might have come into contact with in the event they test positive for the coronavirus. He said thermometers will be provided to employees who do not have one at home.

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“The questionnaire was based on the guidance that’s out from the CDC with regard to the known, right now as of today, COVID-19 symptoms,” Brown said. “All we simply did was put it in an easy form that could be filled out by everyone so that we could actually have that recording that each employee that came to the worksite had acknowledge the fact that they didn’t have a temperature and they had not been exposed to someone with COVID symptoms and they themselves weren’t presently showing COVID symptoms.”

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, raised concern with collecting this data.

“I do not believe we need to capture a response for each one of those questions,” he said. “I don’t want to say government overreaching, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I think we adhere to the rules that we provide in accordance with the CDC guidelines, and that’s it.”

Rothstein suggested having employees sign to say they would follow a wellness directive from county government.

Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, was in favor of temperature checks.

“We’re in a pandemic and we’re going to be for quite some time, and we’re merely asking [for] a temperature check, so I’m a little bit puzzled as to why we’re getting into this so deeply,” he said.

Kim Frock, director of human resources, said other counties are requiring temperature checks and some are asking more questions in their screening processes than what Brown proposed.

Rothstein said he would still expect employees to take their temperature and follow CDC guidelines, but he did not want county government to collect their answers to specific questions and hold on to it.

“I think by signing my name and saying I am adhering to these directives, that’s going to be good enough,” he said.

To address Rothstein’s concern, Brown suggested a shorter survey that would ask each employee whether they have read, understand and are in compliance with the county’s wellness assessment.

The commissioners concurred over the compromise, though they did not take a vote.

The date at which this policy will be implemented is yet to be determined, according to Chris Winebrenner, county spokesperson. She said it will begin as soon as employees are educated on the new policy and process.

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Also in the meeting, Jason Green, deputy director of public works, gave the commissioners options for physical changes to county buildings to help keep people safe, such as sneeze guards and new faucet handles that can be turned with a wrist rather than a hand. The commissioners suggested Green explore these measures and their costs further, especially for high-traffic areas.

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