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County approves hazard pay for health department, emergency services workers

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved one-time hazard payments of $1,200 for 44 full-time employees and one full-time contractor with the Beaufort County Health Department, as well as six members of the county’s emergency services office who’ve been assisting the health department with COVID-19-related tasks.

No county funds will be used to pay the 45 health department workers. Instead, the $54,000 needed to cover those workers will be reallocated from an account the department had originally designated for temporary COVID-19 staffing costs.

“Health department staff are facing the hazards of COVID-19 and (are) required to work during the pandemic,” a supporting document from the health department reads. “All staff have been at increased risks due to assistance with testing sites and points of dispensing the vaccine.”

Health Director Jim Madson said he noticed other counties had given their public health employees hazard pay, which led to him bringing the idea to the board of health.

“It gets very chaotic over at the health department at times, and the fact that I’ve not really had staff turnover during this time tells me that these people are really dedicated to the whole concept of public health,” Madson said.

“The whole amount would be covered by the state agreement we have,” he added.

Madson proposed the one-time hazard payments during the county commissioners’ meeting on Monday. Later in the meeting, County Manager Brian Alligood asked the commissioners to consider granting $1,200 hazard payments to six emergency services workers who he said have been working side-by-side with health department employees. That money would come from the county’s general fund.

“It would be equitable in my mind that if you were to approve what you did for the health department employees, that you’d approve it also for these six emergency services employees,” Alligood said.

The commissioners unanimously approved a motion to give those six workers hazard pay.

This is a developing story.