Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel and Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander speak at the Kenai City Council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Due to COVID spike, state funds to be used to cover city administrative leave

COVID cases are up 38% from last week, and have risen significantly since mid-December.

An ordinance allowing state grant funds to be used to cover the cost of administrative leave for City of Kenai employees who test positive for COVID-19 has been temporarily enacted, although not formally approved by the Kenai City Council.

At its Wednesday meeting, the council took no formal action on the legislation, but allowed the enactment of the ordinance before its scheduled public hearing because of a spike in new COVID cases.

The ordinance states that COVID emergency funds from the state Department of Health and Social Services can be used for positive city employees isolating away from work in lieu of their personal leave.

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander said if a city employee tests positive for COVID, the current policy requires a five-day isolation period and only allows the person to return to work once they’re symptom free. Vaccinated close contact can come to work masked, but unvaccinated close contacts must also isolate for at least five days.

Ostrander said there had been discussions on whether or not the council could introduce and conduct a public hearing on the ordinance at Wednesday’s meeting to expedite the process, but it was not permitted because the council hadn’t provided enough notice to the public.

“When we originally drafted this, we didn’t think that it was necessary to get this in front of the council for tonight, because at the time COVID numbers were significantly less than what they are today,” Ostrander said during the Wednesday meeting. “We’re now seeing significantly higher impacts this week.”

According to state data, COVID cases are up 38% from last week, and have risen significantly since mid-December.

Due to the circumstances, Ostrander reiterated that the ordinance should be temporarily enacted before the public hearing.

“I do think it’s necessary to provide this leave immediately to employees to make sure we protect the public health and safety of our employees,” he said. “I’m going to provide administrative leave from now until the hearing date.”

Council members James Baisden and Teea Winger both stated that they’d like to reevaluate the city close contact policy, saying vaccination status shouldn’t affect protocols.

For now, however, the ordinance is being temporarily enacted until it’s up for public hearing on Feb. 3.

For more information or to watch Wednesday’s city council meeting, visit https://www.kenai.city/citycouncil/page/city-council-regular-meeting-75.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Poppies are affixed to wreaths during a Memorial Day ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai on Monday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Remembering the sacrifices of the fallen

Speakers ask community to be inspired through sacrifice of service members

A fallen tree reaches onto Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, Alaska, as cars drive by on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Grants, borough to support HEA effort to mitigate dangerous trees

HEA will have permission to enter borough land and the borough’s right of way

Assembly President Brent Johnson asks questions of representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during a joint work session of the School Board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough to enter contract for asbestos flooring abatement in 3 central peninsula schools

The work will be done at Kenai Central High, Kenai Alternative High and Sterling Elementary schools

Alaska State Troopers logo.
1 dead, 3 missing after boat capsizes near Seward

Alaska State Troopers were notified by the U.S. Coast Guard of an overturned vessel around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday

Kenai Central High School stands under clear skies in Kenai, Alaska, on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough approves contract for KCHS parking lot rehabilitation

Soldotna-based Foster Construction will be awarded the bid of $648,997 to complete the project

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital to host Cancer Survivor’s Day event

The event will take place Sunday, June 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks to the joint Soldotna and Kenai chambers of commerce at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Carpenter gives wrap up on session as he nears end of House term

Carpenter is seeking election to state Senate District D

(from left to right) Jachin Sanchez, Carter Lemons, Rowan Mahoney, Adelyn McCorison and Taylor Rickard graduated from Ninilchik School on Monday, May 13, 2024 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Photo provided by Mattea Peters-Williamson
Ninilchik graduates 5 in 2024 commencement

The school held the ceremony Monday, May 13

Most Read