County reacts to swine flu spread | SteamboatToday.com

County reacts to swine flu spread

Policy lets staff take sick days on credit

Mike Lawrence

— In an effort to curb the spread of swine flu, Routt County employees can now take sick days above their allotted amount on credit.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a motion Tuesday that designates the 2009-10 fall and winter flu seasons as a “pandemic condition” for Routt County offices. County Manager Tom Sullivan said the motion is a response to the classification of the H1N1 virus, known as swine flu, as a pandemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Sullivan said the county action is a proactive effort and that he has not seen widespread absences of county employees or drops in public service.

“As an employer, Routt County has seen absences of employees due to flu and to stay home with sick children,” Sullivan wrote in a packet accompanying the motion. “Applying the Pandemic Sick Leave Policy is a preventive means to minimize sick leave absences and maintain continuity of government.”

Sullivan said anecdotally, he knows of at least four county employees who have been absent with flu-like symptoms.

“H1N1 is going to impact us throughout this flu season,” he said. “This allows department heads to send employees home.”

Employees who take sick days above their allotment will owe that time to the county, Sullivan said.

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Also Tuesday

Commissioners confirmed their support for a community celebration and send-off for 2010 Olympic athletes, planned for the evening of Feb. 5, 2010, on the Routt County Courthouse lawn on Lincoln Avenue.

Andy Wirth, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said the 2010 Olympic send-off will feature the return of a 14-foot-tall community cauldron that will be lit to honor athletes departing for Vancouver, B.C. Wirth noted that this year’s location also is a return to the location of the 2002 Olympic send-off, which he described as an emotional evening that drew more than 5,000 people to the courthouse in sub-zero temperatures. “We’re looking to largely mimic what we did that night,” Wirth said.

Local businesses wishing to contribute to the event can call Wirth at 871-5485, he said. The 2006 send-off drew thousands to the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena at Howelsen Hill.

Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush, a member of the Statewide Transportation Advisory Committee, said the Colorado Department of Transportation has adopted a new policy that emphasizes safety considerations for bicyclists and pedestrians in all state roadway projects.

While the new policy does not change state standards for factors including shoulder width and intersection layouts, Mitsch Bush said the policy shows a heightened emphasis on protecting all road users.

“What this is really saying is these (users) are really on the same plane : in terms of safety accommodations,” she said. “If you plan a new road that is unsafe for bikes and pedestrians, you really have to make a good argument as to why that was done.”

The new policy was approved last week, Mitsch Bush said.