Tuesday, 12 October 2021 22:54

CRUMP: 78% of Rockingham employees have opted for COVID vaccine

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CRUMP: 78% of Rockingham employees have opted for COVID vaccine RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — Roughly 78% of city employees are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, City Manager Monty Crump told council members Tuesday.


According to Crump, 106 of Rockingham’s 136 employees have taken at least one dose. That number is up from 47 on Aug. 30 when he instituted a policy giving employees until Oct. 15 to show proof of vaccination or submit weekly COVID testing results.

That testing must be done on their own time and their own dime.

Crump said he didn’t want to disclose how many employees had tested positive at the time, “but it was a scary number.”

“We were having 24-hour shifts that I had to bring retired employees from home back into work,” he said, giving the Water Plant as one example. “At that point we strongly urged our employees to get vaccinated.”

“Our comfort level, now with that level of vaccination on the job, has gotten significantly higher not to have outages amongst (workers),” Crump said. “When you’ve got … seven or eight employees and four or five of them have to go home at one time … We had to do something, we addressed it.”

Crump added that the Rockingham Police Department had to stop investigations and move detectives to road duty because of the coronavirus.

Several departments have a 100% vaccination rate, Crump said.

The city also offered a $150 incentive for employees to get vaccinated. Those bonus checks were given out this week.

Hamlet provided a $500 incentive and Richmond Community College offered $250 for employees to take the jab.

On Sept. 29, Crump issued a memo moving the goalpost, giving employees until Nov. 15 to get vaccinated. 

Crump said the policy is subject to change and he may revise it again in two to three weeks. He said Tuesday that it was a “moving target,” based on the status of COVID in the community and what the city is doing internally.

“When you go home tonight and want to turn your water on, you want to flush your toilet, you want the police and fire (department) to come to your house … to be able to do that, we’ve got to have employees here to provide those … services,” Crump said. “My hat’s off to the 106 employees that have stepped up and got vaccinated. That’s outstanding.”

The rate of new COVID cases has been declining in Richmond County and across the state.

On Tuesday, the Richmond County Health Department reported 13 new cases. The average from Saturday to Monday was 14.6 per day.

Richmond County Schools’ COVID Tracker showed four new cases: two at the Ninth Grade Academy; and one each at L.J. Bell Elementary and Richmond Senior High School.

There have been 295 student-related cases since the school year started, with 66 at Richmond Senior. The district has also reported 50 staff-related cases.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,148 new cases on Tuesday. The previous day, statewide cases dipped below 2,000 for the first time in two months.

COVID-related hospitalizations are also decreasing, with 2,236 on Monday.

FirstHealth did not update its statistics on Tuesday, but reported 39 COVID patients on Monday — eight of whom were vaccinated.

The regional hospital chain also instituted a mandatory policy, requiring all employees, medical staff, volunteers, students, agency staff and vendors to receive COVID-19 vaccines by Nov. 19.

Other health systems across the state— including Atrium Health, Cone Health, Duke University Health System, Novant Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Scotland Health — had already put mandatory policies in place.

Employers in both the private health and public sectors have seen pushback from employees regarding mandatory vaccinations.

Health care workers across the state protested such policies, and the police and fire unions in Charlotte wrote a letter to city leaders in early September opposing a mandate.

Multiple media outlets reported Sept. 28 that Winston-Salem-based Novant Health terminated roughly 175 employees for failing to comply.

NCDHHS announced Monday that nearly all of its 10,000 employees at state-operated healthcare facilities were fully vaccinated. The agency also said that around 6% received medical, religious or other exemptions and 16 “were dismissed for non-compliance with the policy’s vaccination deadline of Sept. 30.”