The Laurens County Council voted during and emergency meeting Wednesday to pay any county employees who miss work due to illness or childcare issues over the next two weeks.
The absences must be approved by the employee’s direct supervisor and County Administrator Jon Caime.
“It’s the right thing to do,” said Council Chairman David Pitts, who made the motion.
Pitts’ motion passed 5-2 with councilmen Jeff Carroll and Brown Patterson voting against the measure. Carroll said he believed the motion needed to be more detailed, but was unable to offer amended motion.
Council will revisit that issue and others after the initial two weeks, but members also voted 7-0 to cancel its next scheduled meeting on March 27 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to orders from the state, all county offices have been closed to the public, including the Hillcrest Judicial Complex and the Laurens County Library system.
Council members also heard from emergency staff, including Emergency Services Director Joey Avery, Fire Services Director Greg Lindley and EMS Director Matt Pennington.
“We have what we need right now,” Pennington said when asked about safety equipment such as protective masks, gloves and gowns. “But we’re checking with our vendors.”
Lindley said his professional firefighters have enough personal protective equipment “for one round,” roughly a week of calls involving the virus. But the 300 volunteers in the fire services division are still being outfitted.
Avery briefed the council on county government’s machinations behind the scenes to be as prepared as possible for cases of the virus in the county.
So far, there are no confirmed cases in Laurens County, but around 60 cases have been confirmed in South Carolina, including one Wednesday night in Abbeville County at the Abbeville Area Medical Center.
An elderly Lexington man is the state’s only fatality from COVID-19.
“A lot of our work has been behind the scenes,” Avery said. “There have been a lot of discussions and a lot of thought about what we need in the county that we do not have.
“I feel like we’ve decided on what we’ve needed to decide on, and we have a good plan. We met with department heads Monday and talked about our plan of action, and today we implemented that plan.”