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County extends COVID leave for employees

Escambia County employees who have concerns about taking leave related to COVID-19 illnesses can take a sigh of relief after commissioners approved the extension of leave time.

Escambia County Administrator Tony Sanks said the leave policies in place by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired on Dec. 31, 2020. That expiration has left some employees wondering how the need to take leave would effect them and their wages.

Commissioner Steven Dickie said he believes that the leave will be extended retroactively at the federal level in the coming weeks.

“I believe that as well,” Sanks said. “I expect congress to take steps to extend the leave policy, but in order for county employees to continue to receive the benefits from the leave, the county had to pass the extension until the extension is approved nationally.”

The commissioner unanimously agreed to extend the benefits as seen in the FFCRA and will continue until such time as it is readdressed at the federal level.

In other business, the commission:

• Approved the appointment of Jim Johnson to fill the seat on the Escambia County Healthcare Authority left vacant with the passing of Ruth Harrell. Scottie Stewart made the recommendation to appoint Johnson to the seat with unanimous approval from the commission;

• Approved the annual certifications and assurances for FTA assistance. County Administrator Tony Sanks said the approval was necessary in order for the county to receive Federal funds associated with the ECATS program. The approval shows that the county will comply with federal policy for the program.