CAMANCHE — A Camanche city councilman is suggesting the city look at providing pay to first responders if they contract COVID-19 on the job.
During a council meeting this week, Councilman Brent Brightman questioned whether the city has a COVID-19 relief fund for firefighters and police personnel who contract the virus and have to take time off work.
Camanche City Administrator Andrew Kida said that during the height of COVID-19, it was just time the worker took off. That is no longer the case and now sick time must be used to cover the time off, he said.
Brightman thinks the city should reconsider this, he said. An individual being sick is one thing but being sick home with COVID-19 is another thing, he said.
“In the last couple weeks, obviously it’s been pretty hard around here,” Brightman said. “I’m just concerned even though some people have the vaccines, you can still contract it. And this is the heat of the place to get it if you’re going to get it as far as a public safety personnel. I just think that as a city, we didn’t ask for all this crap to happen. ... Who would have thought that we would have been in a position that we’re in right now?”
Camanche Mayor Trevor Willis believes providing first responders with paid days off should depend on where they contracted the virus, he said.
“For me, if you contracted it on the job and there’s a clear indication of that, then I think we should take care of them, absolutely,” Willis said. “If you contracted it when you were out and then you went to a big party and didn’t wear a mask and nobody else wore a mask, then I don’t think we need to take care of that. But if they contracted it on the job, I totally agree with that.”
If it were shown that any city employees contracted COVID-19 on the job, that certainly would be something for which the city could compensate their time, especially for public safety, Kida said. He said public safety employees do not receive workman’s compensation.
“To the mayor’s point, if someone were at an event and contracted COVID because they were out partying, that would be one thing. But if they went out on an ambulance call and exposed and turned positive, we might consider that something different.”
Brightman said most times when a patient goes back to the hospital, they get word back right away whether they tested positive. They already have the data, he said.
Certain events change the way things are done, Willis said.
Brightman believes the city needs to adjust to the current situation, he said.
“I think we have to adjust to that as a city,” Brightman said. “And I think that’s one thing we can do to help continue to take care of the people that have to do this for a living and get it in the heat of the moment.”
Kida plans to reach out to see if other cities have COVID-19 time-off policies in place. The council did not take any action at Tuesday’s meeting on the issue.