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Changes coming for Mecklenburg County protocols for unvaccinated county workers

The changes, which will allow for more flexibility with employees' schedules, will go into effect on Sept. 26.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Changes are coming to Mecklenburg County's COVID-19 protocols regarding unvaccinated employees, according to an email obtained by WCNC Charlotte's Hunter Sáenz. 

Instead of requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test every week, unvaccinated employees will only need to submit proof that they get tested weekly. 

Results of the COVID-19 tests will now only be required if it yields a positive COVID-19 test result. 

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In addition to this change, the county is broadening out its testing period for county employees to allow proof of testing submissions any day from Sunday to Saturday, so long as it's submitted weekly. This particular change was made to offer employees maximum flexibility to work within their schedule.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Mecklenburg County releases new guidelines for masking, vaccination among county employees

If a county employee gets permission from their supervisor, they may get a COVID-19 test during their work-day, so long as work duties are not impacted. 

The changes will go into effect on Sept. 26.

"We think that's really going to clear up a lot of the confusion, and still allow employees to be compliant with our requirements," County Manager Dena Diorio said.

Employees were required to disclose whether they were vaccinated by Sept. 1, and weekly testing requirements for unvaccinated county employees started Sept. 7.  

Diorio admitted the rollout of the policy was a bumpy ride at best. However, she showed little empathy for those who were suspended for not complying with it as she noted all employees knew what they needed to do since Aug. 1. 

"Employees who got themselves in this situation put themselves there," she said. "And the people who got jammed up are the people who didn't read the information, didn't follow up, didn't have a plan, and they got snagged and couldn't find a way to get out of it."

Out of more than 5,000 Mecklenburg County employees, last week 598 were suspended for not complying with the testing policy. As of Friday, only 322 were on the suspension list. 

However, Diorio told county commissioners as of Tuesday night there were no active suspensions. She said employees were reinstated for showing proof of vaccination or getting their weekly test in. 

Still, Diorio noted there are 86 county employees who have not complied at all and human resources haven't heard from them. 

"They've been silent," she said. "Those people are in trouble."

They risk termination if they don't comply. 

Diorio said those who suffered suspensions will not be paid back-pay because nobody was wrongfully suspended. 

The county is partnering with StarMed for any employee who needs to get tested. They are increasing their hours at the Northwest Health Department parking lot. Beginning Monday, Sept. 27, new hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Beginning Oct. 2, StarMed will start a new weekly Saturday clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Kuralt parking lot at 311 Billingsley Road in Charlotte.  

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