HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla — More than 1,000 Hillsborough County employees have been infected with COVID-19 but the number of people quarantined because of potential exposure is more than double that.
“That is putting a huge burden on our other employees and on our overtime,” said Bonnie Wise, the Hillsborough County Administrator.
2,452 employees have been quarantined which is nearly half of the county’s workforce and the impact stretches far.
“If you think about a bunch of firefighters being out because of quarantine, then we have to call in new firefighters and they are tired and that’s requiring additional overtime as well,” she said.
And with more unvaccinated people being admitted to the hospital county services are impacted too.
For example, ambulances are sitting in bays because they can’t get people through to the hospital which means they’re essentially out of service.
“So, if you’re having a heart attack or something of that nature, not even COVID related, the impacts to all of us on our health system is critical,” said Wise.
It’s why the county will offer $500 and 2 paid days off to any employee that shows proof of vaccination by October 15th, 2021.
“We know that this will help bring cost down and it helps save lives,” said Wise.
That extra money will show up on the October 29th paycheck and if the employee already uploaded their vaccination card, they don’t have to do anything else to get those benefits.
If someone doesn’t want to get vaccinated, they will be tested weekly starting October 18th, 2021 unless they can prove they have COVID-19 antibodies monthly. But, once those antibodies are gone, they will need to test weekly…
If you want to work at Hillsborough County, you MUST be fully vaccinated to get the job. Wise said they may have lost out on a few potential hires because of the requirement but, "For me it’s more important that people be safe, and the public be safe and their families be safe."
So far, the county says it hasn't had any push-back from current employees. The vaccination rate at the county is a little more than 52%. The new incentive was announced Monday.