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Moundsville City Council Is Reconsidering Vaccine Incentives for Employees

Photo by Alan Olson Moundsville city council declines to move forward with an ordinance reimbursing COVID sick days for vaccinated employees.

MOUNDSVILLE — A proposed measure to reimburse vaccinated employees for sick leave when out with COVID fell through Tuesday night, but city leaders say they’ll find another angle to incentivise the jab.

The ordinance would have reimbursed accrued leave time to vaccinated employees who were out on quarantine or isolation due to COVID.

When the matter was raised before council, council member Sara Wood spoke up, saying that such a policy was outdated, as the city was no longer being reimbursed by the federal government for such use, and that the city should pursue other avenues to incentivise employees to get vaccinated.

“At this point, we have been one of the few cities that was still choosing to do that, and I think with the current situation — where we’ve had a lot of people having to quarantine that are unvaccinated — we’re losing a lot of productivity, we’re losing money in terms of refunding that, so I think we would need to make it across the board that we’re not reimbursing,” Wood said.

City Manager Rick Healy said he had reached out to other local entities, and that Wheeling, Glen Dale, and the Marshall County Commission were not reimbursing time off for COVID, with Wheeling requiring unvaccinated employees to get tested for the disease weekly.

McMechen, he said, was paying for time off due to COVID, but added that the city had a standing policy that if a person allegedly in isolation was seen in public, they would get nothing.

Marshall County’s lagging performance in the COVID metrics for vaccination, Wood added, is a sore spot for her, especially considering West Virginia’s early performance in rolling out vaccines, which too has lagged behind as the rest of the country caught up. The Department of Health and Human Resources coronavirus map shows that Marshall County reports an even 50% of people age 12 or older have been vaccinated.

“I think we need to do something. I’ve had many conversations with the health department, and the only way we’re going to get this pandemic under control is to increase our vaccination rate. Our vaccination rate is horrible, in Marshall County.

It’s horrible in the state of West Virginia.

“We need to be doing everything we can to help the health department get this pandemic under control, and increase our vaccination rates. I don’t know what the answer is, I don’t know if a cash incentive is the answer, like the city of Charleston is doing, but I’d like to discuss different options for us to be able to assist being in the foreground of helping get this under control,” Wood said.

Council member Randy Chamberlain commented that it was strange that the Mountain State’s COVID situation had deteriorated, given the early strides it had seen in getting the vaccine out.

“At the beginning, we were the state that was getting the most people initially vaccinated, but it seems like we came to a point where we just stopped,” he said.

At Chamberlain and Wood’s moving, the matter will be brought before the finance committee in October.

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