By Alyssa Schnugg
The Oxford Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday during a special meeting to make getting the COVID-19 vaccine non-mandatory for city employees; however, those who don’t will have to use their accrued sick time.
The vote came just about the same time that Gov. Tate Reeves announced that people 65 and up, or 18 and up with a pre-existing medical condition can now receive the COVID-19 vaccine, pushing that group of people ahead of teachers and first-responders, unless they have a preexisting medical condition.
Mayor Robyn Tannehill said she wanted employees to have all the information before deciding if they will be taking the vaccine.
As approved Tuesday, if a city employee elects to take the vaccine but either still comes down with COVID-19, or has to quarantine due to a family member with a positive test, they will have to stay home for the CDC recommended 14 days, but will receive administrative paid leave during that time that does not take away other sick days from the employee.
If an employee chooses not to get vaccinated, they are still required to quarantine, per the CDC; however, they will have to use their own sick pay.
Tannehill said the option was meant to incentivize people to get the vaccine.
The Board was presented a few options, including mandating the vaccine for all city employees, other than those exempt due to religious or medical reasons; however, no motion was made to elect that option.
As of Tuesday, there were 220 active cases of COVID-19 in Lafayette County, which has been declining since Nov. 29 when there were 352 active cases.
Since March, Lafayette County has had 4,743 positive cases and 91 deaths associated with COVID-19.
The Oxford School District reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 from Jan. 4-10 – four teachers and nine students.
The Lafayette County School District reported 30 new cases last week – six teachers and 24 students.
The University of Mississippi reported 29 new cases – 12 employees and 17 students.
Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi reported that out of its 181 staffed beds, 55 had patients with COVID-19 and there were 29 beds available as of Monday. There were eight patients with COVID-19 in the ICU. Of the hospital’s 24 ICU beds, there were four available Monday.