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County commissioners approve additional emergency measures

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners approved two resolutions Monday morning during an emergency meeting that will keep county buildings closed to the public through May 4 and implement an interim policy for county employees affected by COVID-19.

Freeborn County Administrator Tom Jensen said he thinks county buildings will likely be closed longer, but the county has several modifications in place to allow essential operations to continue as usual, such as a lockbox in the law enforcement center lobby for people who need to drop off tax payments or real estate documents for the Freeborn County recorder or auditor-treasurer’s office.

“I think we’re doing exceptionally well at the county level,” Jensen said.

The board members, Jensen and Human Resources Director Candace Pesch took part in the meeting online, and the video was streamed to the county’s website.

Jensen said the new interim policy for employees goes above what was mandated on both the state and federal levels and “holds employees harmless” if affected by COVID-19.

Under the policy, Pesch is charged with implementing requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, which go into effect April 1.

According to the policy, the Emergency Paid Leave Sick Act is available for employees who are unable to work due to a need for leave because they are under a quarantine or are caring for a person under an order, who are advised by health care providers to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 or are caring for someone who is, who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis, or who are caring for a child whose child care provider or school has been closed because of COVID-19 precautions.

Full-time employees will be paid for up to 80 hours of work, and part-time employees will be paid for the equivalent of two weeks of work.

The Family Medical Leave Act act is expanded to cover employees who have been employed for the previous 30 days to take care of children due to school or child care closings.

The police states division heads in the county will make arrangements to ensure critical functions will continue, following the county’s pandemic preparedness plan. Telecommuting and working from home will be approved if available, though not all employees will be able to do so.

The policy provides further details about working from home and what happens in the event an employee displays contagious symptoms. Employees sent home for displaying contagious symptoms will receive their full rate of pay for the duration of the illness without use of sick leave, PTO, vacation or comp time, and all hours will be counted toward the emergency FMLA.

The policy states COVID-19 will be treated the same as other illness or injury for workers’ compensation. If it is contracted from exposure at work, the supervisor must be notified and a report will be filed.