The Riley County Commission on Monday tabled discussion on whether to continue allowing county employees who work in law enforcement and emergency medical care to work additionally in other counties during the coronavirus pandemic.
Cindy Volanti, county human resources manager and deputy clerk, said the nature of their professions do not allow them to follow social distancing guidelines, so a decision on this matter would be designed to prevent spread from other areas.
Volanti said full-time employees could be asked to discontinue working part time for other entities or companies in outside areas.
Riley County EMS Assistant Director Josh Gering said those outside jobs put employees, and in turn the people they serve, at risk of incidental exposure elsewhere. He said though they are not in a highly impacted area yet, the county is in a position to avoid that problem.
“Our position is to maintain the continuity of our operations in Riley County,” Gering said. “We’ve already assumed a substantial risk in our day-to day interactions with the public and we can’t assume that risk for Riley County and any other county we have part time jobs in. We can control our systems and processes to mitigate that risk, (but) I can’t control another county where you may have a part-time job.”
He said there are roughly three or four full-time EMS employees that fit this description.
Volanti said the idea for part-time employees is a little different, and the distinction could come down to the immediate level of need for certain services in the communities involved.
Gering suggested a possible option could be that department heads audit the jobs of employees to determine whether they could get shifts or maybe have additional restrictions before working with Riley County EMS again. Gering said after the pandemic is over, officials can readdress resuming outside work.
County Clerk Rich Vargo said it would not make sense to treat full-time and part-time workers differently, and the board agreed to table the discussion to Thursday.
In other news, commissioners voted unanimously to continue to follow the governor’s orders regarding in-state travel and the coronavirus.
Cindy Volanti asked the commission if they wanted to take extra measures in enforcing in-state travel as other Kansas counties have. For example, she said, Seward County recently passed a resolution that outlined travel restrictions to areas that include Sedgwick and Shawnee counties, the Kansas City metro area and other “high-risk” places.
Commissioner John Ford said their orders should just follow the executive order right now and readjust later if need be.
The current statewide order, in place until at least April 19, says Kansans should stay at home unless doing one of the following:
- Obtaining food, medicine and other household necessities;
- Going to and from work at a business or organization performing an essential function as identified in the Kansas Essential Function Framework;
- Seeking medical care;
- Caring for children, family members or pets, or caring for a vulnerable person in another location;
- Engaging in an outdoor activity, provided individuals maintain a distance of six feet from one another and abide by the 10-person limitation on gathering size.
Ford said he did, however, have issues with conflicting statements from state officials to stay at home but then also allow outdoor activities.
“I’m not really comfortable with telling everybody to stay at home but no, by all means go out and picnic, camp, golf, (et cetera),” he said. “To me it’s kind of contradictory. My guess is that will be one of those things that will be discussed once (the state) tightens it down. Now that we have a (community spread) case, my hope is that people will take that advisement.”