DAVIDSON COUNTY — The Davidson County Board of Commissioners voted to approve an extension of pay “bonuses” to exempt workers at the Davidson County Health Department who exceed 40 hours in a work week.

According to County Manager Casey Smith, when the COVID-19 pandemic started, the CARES Act funding allowed exemptions for operating more than 40 hours per week. On Dec. 31, those rules and funds expired, then were extended by the county.

In order to continue administering vaccines in the county, the health department workers were given another extension of this allowance.

“What we’re proposing here is an extension of this little program with exemptive employees for public health, given the fact that these clinics now are operated later in the evenings and now on Saturdays,” Smith said. “It’s for a handful of employees as an estimate of what we think it might run for a year.

“Without that, I don’t know that we will be able to keep these clinics operating without continually pressuring our personnel.”

Davidson County Health Director Lillian Koontz expressed her appreciation of the extension and recognition of the efforts by her staff to ensure all vaccines provided by the state are administered. She described the ongoing battle to reduce the pandemic’s spread as a “more-than-40-hours” job, but also acknowledged the toll her workers have faced.

“Our staff that we’re talking about, they signed up for a job that would, from time to time, be more than 40 hours,” Koontz said. “But we’re now asking people to work on Saturdays too, and holidays. We worked on Martin Luther King, we’ve worked every Saturday, we worked Christmas Eve, and so it’s wearing on folks.

“This is a really wonderful opportunity for our folks, just to say thank you, we appreciate you coming out of your homes and taking time out away from your family on Saturdays. Like I say, they signed up for more than 40 hours a week. These exempt folks, they knew that would happen, but not every Saturday and not every holiday.”

A similar policy was implemented earlier this year by the city of Thomasville to extend benefits to city employees that will resemble those provided by the federal government throughout 2020 because of the pandemic. In the case of Thomasville, the extension included additional sick leave meant to allow an employee not to be forced to use sick leave accrued through their employer in order to address COVID-related sickness, whether the sickness was their own or within their family.

The county will continue with the extension of its policy until the end of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. Commissioners will revisit the policy again at that time.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.