Many Lycoming County employees will be furloughed one hour each day for the next two weeks, according to county leadership.
It is part of preliminary steps as the county begins to put together a plan for reopening operations, according to Matt McDermott, chief clerk for the county.
“Slowly, things are being opened, but in a modified approach,” McDermott said, adding that the county sent out a directive to its employees on Wednesday informing them that, beginning Monday, they would be furloughed one hour each day, equaling 10 hours, for the next two weeks.
Employees have the option to use vacation time for the furloughed hour. McDermott added that the money saved from the initiative will be placed into a spending account to fully pay the health care deductible for any employee or family member diagnosed with COVID-19.
“It will be put into an account that will be maintained for at least a year,” he said.
Some departments that are deemed essential by the county will not be furloughed, such as the 911 Center, Adult Probation and Juvenile Probation offices, the prison, the pre-release center and certain portions of the county Resource Management Services, according to McDermott.
In addition, he said it is up to each department head if they will ask their employees to continue working from home, or if they will come in on a limited basis or in shifts.
Some county operations, such as the landfill and transfer station, already have resumed some operations. Trash now can be dropped off at the transfer station; however, recycling services still are suspended.
So far, in Lycoming County there are 32 positive cases for COVID-19. In the state there are 30,000 positive cases with 756 deaths.
Over the next week, McDermott said, the county department heads will work on a “deliberate and phased” plan to fully reopen the county in accordance with state and federal mandates.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced a six-step plan to reopening the economy. It includes:
- Collecting data throughout the state, a process currently underway.
- Putting forth guidance and recommendations for employers, individuals and health care facilities for assured accountability..
- Ensuring that adequate personal protective equipment and testing are available.
- Instituting a monitoring and surveillance program that allows the commonwealth to deploy swift actions for containment or mitigation if necessary.
- Mandating that protections for vulnerable populations must remain steadfast throughout the reopening process, such as limitations on visitors congregating at care facilities and prisons.
- Requiring that limitations on large gatherings unrelated to occupations should remain in place for the duration of the reopening process.
Wolf’s plan comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s three-stage plan allowing states to reopen when they feel it necessary to do so. The administration recommends a process of increasing group interaction slowly over time as it works best with individual states and locations.
As the county works to figure out the best reopening plan, McDermott said it is hampered by the large number of employees working from home and the backlog of services, especially in the courthouse.
To alleviate some of the backlog, a remote location with computers has been set up in the Third Street Plaza for members of the prothonotary’s office to work on refinancing and mortgage documents.