City officials on COVID-19: 30 Savannah employees self-quarantine, 1 SPD reserve officer tests positive

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Savannah City Council is still working and holding regular meetings.

The council met via Zoom on Thursday to discuss coronavirus-related operations, employees and hazard pay among other items on the agenda.

During the meeting, At-Large Alderwoman for Post 1 Kesha Gibson-Carter, brought up an email sent Wednesday by City Manager Patrick Monahan discussing the number of employees tested and in self-quarantine due to COVID-19.

The email, she stated, mentioned that a reserve officer with the Savannah Police Department (SPD) tested positive for COVID-19.

Mayor Van Johnson chimed in saying, “the reserve officer is not a city employee.”

According to SPD, a reserve officer is either retired or has worked with the department before and volunteers for a set number of hours to maintain their status.

They do not get paid, SPD said, but are allowed to take jobs and be compensated for security positions, for example, outside of volunteer hours.

“We have no city employee that’s been reported to be positive,” the mayor said.

“I don’t doubt that in the coming weeks, employees will be,” Monahan said. “And the city has set up a protocol for handling those.”

In fact, according to the Savannah Fire Department, an employee was diagnosed with coronavirus last month but has since recovered and was allowed to return to work.

According to the email, 30 city employees are in self-quarantine and 15 have been tested for the virus.

SPD said the reserve officer is at home resting, and in addition, 13 officers are in self-quarantine and nine are awaiting test results. Savannah Fire said two of its employees are also in quarantine.

Monahan’s e-mail, however, stated 15 members of the police department and one from the fire department were in self-quarantine. He also said eight vehicle maintenance employees, three sanitation employees, and one employee each from mobility services, water and sewer, and human resources were at home due to possible exposure.

The city manager and mayor said of the 15 employee tests, three came back negative on Thursday.

“I’ve heard more rumors about city employees that have had it and then when we investigated they didn’t have it at all,” said Johnson.

The council also discussed hazard pay for city employees. Monahan explained during Thursday’s meeting that all employees — except for elected officials, the city manager, the city attorney and those who are teleworking or on family and medical leave — will be eligible.

He said essentially all but 335 city employees will be eligible for hazard pay between April 12 and May 29.

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