AUBURN — Commissioner Sally Christner on Wednesday offered a three-page plan dealing with the prevention, reaction and preparedness for a potential COVID-19 outbreak among Androscoggin County government workers.

“There’s been some concern among employees about exposure to COVID and the notification of employees,” the Turner resident told fellow commissioners at their meeting.

Christner added that much of the concern dealt with communicating that information to other employees.

She offered a draft of a potential policy, which she called a “stop-gap measure” until human resources and the commissioners develop a more comprehensive and exhaustive policy.

She noted in the proposed document that, “This is a policy to address a distinct and recent workplace hazard and in response to concerns of Androscoggin County employees. It is not intended to be a permanent addition to the HR Policies of Androscoggin County.”

During Wednesday’s commissioners’ meeting, County Administrator Larry Post said two employees tested positive during the holidays and two others had missed time at work for COVID-19 during the five weeks previous to the holidays.

While not an official outbreak, as defined by the Maine Center of Disease Control and Prevention, the recent positive tests have unnerved some county employees.

“Staff should be notified through official sources,” Register of Probate Tom Reynolds said. “People are concerned. People don’t feel safe.”

The plan states that employees “should, as soon as convenient, notify the county administrator or the human resource facilitator.”

Commissioner Noel Madore of Lewiston wondered if that would violate HIPPA privacy rules.

No, Commissioner Terri Kelly of  Mechanic Falls responded, comparing it to restaurants who now ask patrons for their name and phone number before seating them for potential contact tracing.

After studying the proposal, commissioners are expected to vote on the policy at its next meeting Jan. 20.

The board was presented with a yearlong calendar with meeting dates scheduled for the first and third Wednesday of every month. Commissioners expressed interest of eliminating the meeting scheduled during the July 4 week.

Commissioner John Michael of Auburn said he would introduce a motion at the next meeting to allow commissioners the ability to meet just once a month instead of requiring two.

The meeting was the first for newly elected Commissioner Roland Poirier of Lewiston.

Christner was elected chairwoman for the upcoming year. Kelly will serve as vice chairman.

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