Masks still required at city buildings
Only 21% of Clintonville city staff vaccinated
By Bert Lehman
While the city of Clintonville will switch to in-person meetings on June 1, masks will continue to be required inside city buildings.
The city council approved the switch from virtual to in-person meetings and the mask requirement when it met on May 11.
The mask requirement will stay in effect until the vaccination rate of full-time and regular part-time city employees reaches 75% or until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer recommends the use of masks indoors for any scenario, or until the council elects to rescind the mask requirement. The only exception to the mask requirement is for private events held within rented city facilities when city staff are not present.
City Administrator Sharon Eveland recommended the city return to in-person meetings effective immediately, but asked that masks be required to be worn by people in city buildings.
“I do think we are at that point where there’s much less of a need to have virtual meetings,” Eveland said.
Eveland said she recommends masks be required in city buildings because she does not believe the vaccination rate for city staff is high enough.
As of May 11, Eveland said 21% of the city’s full-time employees had been vaccinated for COVID-19.
“That is significantly below the state and the national average,” Eveland said. “That means 78% of our full-time staff are not vaccinated, and the concern is that we are creating, if we were to do away with masks, we could create a situation where we are going to lose an entire (city) department. And we can’t operate that way. We can’t handle that risk.”
Ald. Brad Rokus asked if the low vaccination rate was because of the choice of city employees or the availability of the vaccine.
Eveland said city employees are choosing not to get vaccinated.
Rokus said if employees are choosing not to get vaccinated, it is the employees who would be creating the situation where an entire department could be lost to a COVID infection.
Eveland agreed, but said if an entire city department has to quarantine because of contact with a COVID-19 positive person, it impacts the operations of the city.
“I am worried about the health, the individual health, don’t get me wrong, but I think there’s a certain level of responsibility aspect to that piece,” Eveland said. “My concern is the potential impact on operations if somebody gets sick and exposes an entire department to that because our (vaccination) rate is so incredibly low.”
Rokus said the city cannot force its employees to get the vaccine, but acknowledged the employees’ choices could start impacting others, including the people they work for and with.
Eveland agreed, adding that she does not want the city to create a rule that employees do not need to wear a mask if everyone has been vaccinated, because that would require employees to disclose personal medical information to their co-workers.
Ald. Branden Bradon asked if there is anything the city can do to incentivize city employees to get vaccinated.
Eveland said a community near Green Bay is depositing money into the health savings accounts of the employees who get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There are some (communities) who are looking at trying to incentivize (getting the vaccine),” Eveland said. “There’s very few that are doing direct cash payments. I know some communities that looked at that, but then there were a lot of people in the community that took issues with that.”
Eveland said incentivizing the COVID-19 vaccine with funds added to HSA accounts of employees would be similar to adding funds if an employee does not smoke, which some communities do.
The city’s benefits administrator has said that would be possible, Eveland said.
She added that if the city’s vaccination rate remains low in June, she will consider asking the council to incentivize the vaccine.