The Hennepin County board declared a continued local emergency at today's special board meeting, in addition to other actions related to COVID-19.
The declaration of local emergency invokes Hennepin County’s disaster plans, along with the county’s powers to quickly provide emergency aid.
The emergency will remain ongoing, due to the continued need for extraordinary and immediate measures to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Hennepin County residents and employees. It is not anticipated that these needs will be resolved in the immediate future.
This declaration also authorizes up to $2.5 million to purchase and contract for all necessary goods, materials, supplies, equipment, and contracted services as part of Hennepin County’s COVID-19 response.
All Hennepin County ordinances, rules, and policies that may inhibit or prevent prompt response to COVID-19 may be suspended for the duration of the local emergency if necessary.
Agreement to provide quarantine and isolation spaces
The board authorized up to $3 million to provide alternative quarantine and isolation spaces for people who depend on county services.
This action will provide quarantine and isolation spaces for residents who cannot provide for this on their own. People who may need this accommodation include returning travelers, such as students studying abroad, or people experiencing homelessness.
This action gives County Administration the authority to negotiate leases to provide these spaces through the end of 2020.
Support for Hennepin County employees paid time off
Effective March 15, staff who are required to be off work due to COVID-19 are authorized to use up to 80 hours of COVID-19 pay.
This includes staff with a medically-confirmed diagnosis of or exposure to COVID-19 for the employee or one of their family or household members resulting in self-quarantine.
Front-facing staff will be granted an additional 80 hours paid time off or vacation for use in the future.
Negative leave balances
Employees with insufficient paid leave hour balances are authorized to accrue a negative vacation/sick leave/PTO balance up to 240 hours under circumstances requiring employees to be off work due to a declared emergency. This has been increased from 160 hours.
Employees in good standing who stay with the county one year following the end of the declared emergency will have 40 hours negative accrual forgiven, and employees in good standing who stay with the county two years following the end of the declared emergency will have an additional 40 hours negative accrual forgiven.
The county has made a number of other significant benefits and workplace changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is working diligently to anticipate COVID-19 developments and act accordingly to ensure the health and safety of residents.
County closures and service disruptions
Effective March 17, Hennepin County is closing all public-facing services at all libraries, human service centers, and licensing service centers through April 6. Hennepin County staff will undertake a period of planning through April 6, to define creative solutions for serving our residents that do not require person-to-person contact.
Current and archival board meetings, agendas and minutes are available at hennepin.us/boardmeetings.
Look for more news on the Hennepin County website at hennepin.us/news.