COVID-19 updates: Free vaccine clinics
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) FAQs for Employees
Contact information and resources:
- For general HR questions and guidance, staff members should contact their HR generalist.
- For questions regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act, the department should contact their Payroll and Transactions contact.
- For guidance to employees for exposure to presumptive or confirmed COVID-19 - view the help guide.
- For questions involving collective bargaining agreement terms, managers or supervisors should contact Alison Kelly.
- If you have questions not addressed here and you are not able to obtain guidance from your manager or supervisor, contact Kristen Schultz.
- For general COVID-19 questions, visit the Coronavirus Disease 2019 page.
- Check RamseyNet for the county's face covering policy and Ramsey News for updates.
- COVID-19 Employee vaccination or testing requirements as of 11/1/2021.
See below for answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19/coronavirus.
Where can I get a vaccine?
Register for a vaccine appointment at Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector.
Will my health clinic be providing vaccinations?
Can I use work time to attend vaccination clinics offered by the county?
Similar to the flu clinics, Ramsey County employees may use their work time to attend vaccination clinics offered by the county at their worksites or work locations. Ramsey County employees may also use sick leave during normal work hours to receive a vaccine from their own providers or other clinics (not offered by Ramsey County).
Can I use PEPEL leave if I have side effects from getting the vaccine?
Yes, If you haven't used your 80 hours of PEPEL leave.
Do I have to get the vaccine?
Effective Nov. 1, 2021, all current employees must follow the COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination and Testing Policy. The policy requires that all employees certify to their vaccination status and upload proof of vaccination if fully vaccinated. Any employee who does not certify that they are fully vaccinated must submit weekly COVID-19 test results. Employees hired after Nov. 1, 2021 must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of employment.
When are people considered fully vaccinated?
In general, people are considered fully vaccinated:
- Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
- Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
If you don’t meet these requirements, regardless of your age, you are not fully vaccinated. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated.
Can fully vaccinated people still get and spread the virus?
Yes. Per the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing infection, serious illness, and death. Most people who get COVID-19 are unvaccinated. However, since vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection, some people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19.
Buildings and workplace
Would it be better if we had more air flow or more fresh air in our buildings to prevent COVID-19?
In accordance with CDC guidelines, we have confirmed that our ventilation systems are operating properly and verified that filtration in use is in accordance with the design specifications. We have increased the total air circulation and the amount of outdoor air as much as possible without affecting personal comfort (i.e. drafts, humidity) and creating negative building pressure which causes issues with the operation of exterior doors and elevators. We have extended the hours of operation of the systems before and after the normal occupied hours of the buildings.
Should we have HEPA air filtration units in our buildings?
Implementing these or other types of engineering controls is recommended for areas with high and very high exposure risk such as those encountered in health care facilities where there is a high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19. For most facilities, these engineering controls are not necessary, not beneficial and not possible due to the design of the building systems. Whole building HEPA air filtration is not possible with existing county building systems and is typically reserved for use in health care facilities. We continue to evaluate the use of our buildings and the systems in place.
Paid Extraordinary Pandemic Event Leave (PEPEL)
What is PEPEL?
Paid Extraordinary Pandemic Event Leave, or PEPEL for short, is a paid leave benefit available to all employees (including represented and unrepresented, temps, intermittents, student workers and interns) of up to 80 hours that may be requested to be used in the event an employee must be absent due to a COVID-19 health-related reason, including school and child care closures related to COVID-19.
PEPEL is one part of an agreement/policy created to help lessen the impact of COVID-19 on employees. The other pieces of the policy/agreement are:
- After using all PEPEL hours, employees may use their accrued vacation, sick and comp time, as is appropriate for the circumstance.
- After sick, vacation or comp balances are used, employees may receive an advance of up to 80 total hours of sick and/or vacation hours.
Why did PEPEL get created?
PEPEL was created as part of a strategic effort to keep providing services in Ramsey County while keeping our residents and employees safe. The services provided by local government are essential functions, and as such, Ramsey County employees are expected to work as required by their departmental service delivery models, unless there is a COVID-19 health-related reason they are unable to work.
Do I have to use PEPEL hours or other benefits?
No. You are encouraged to work, remotely if possible, and if unable to work remotely and otherwise unaffected by COVID-19, you may work consistent with your service delivery model.
What happens when PEPEL hours are exhausted?
If you use all your PEPEL hours (or don’t experience a qualifying circumstance for PEPEL or choose not to use PEPEL hours), you may use sick and/or vacation leave (comp time, floating holiday, holiday reserve) as is appropriate to the situation.
If you use all your accrued leave, you may request to advance up to a total of 80 hours of sick and/or vacation leave, as is appropriate to the situation.
What medical documentation will be required when using PEPEL, sick or vacation accrued leave/advances?
It depends on what you use it for; we want to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system by asking for doctor notes. If there is a reason to verify a high-risk status or reason for use of leaves, or if FMLA is being utilized, you may be required to do so pursuant to current contract language and processes.
What situations are not COVID-19 related?
Any other situation for which you would normally use sick or vacation leave – such as common cold, doctor/dentist appointment, vacation, etc.
How does an employee use PEPEL?
Employees must request approval from their supervisor to use PEPEL or any advance of sick/vacation hours in the same way the employee would normally request to use any leave. Request can be made following your existing department procedures (i.e. Summit, ETS or by email.)
Are there new time reporting codes for PEPEL?
Yes. Use 361 or 362, which is available on the drop-down menu as you are submitting your time for payroll. Feel free to reach out to your supervisor or manager, Payroll, your Human Resources generalist, or Labor Relations with any questions as they come up.
Can an employee use PEPEL in increments?
Yes. Employees can use it in as small as quarter-hour increments, as long as the reason for use aligns with the intended purpose outlined in Table A (below). For example: An employee who is able to telework but can only telework for part of their normal day due to COVID-19 childcare-related issues, could use PEPEL hours to supplement the regular hours worked.
Can intermittent, part-time and temporary employees use PEPEL?
It depends, but yes for most. Current employees as of March 14, 2020, if and when the employee needs to use PEPEL hours, their hours have already been pro-rated based on average hours worked and their prorated PEPEL hours have been assigned for them to access in the time reporting system.
New hire intermittent, part-time and temporary employees: If and when the employee needs to use PEPEL hours, their proration will be based on average number of hours worked in the last four pay periods.
Intermittent employees without a regular schedule could use PEPEL for a shift they were expected to work, but are unable to because of a COVID-19 health related issue per Table A (below).
Can PEPEL hours result in overtime?
No. The 80 PEPEL hours are intended to replace or supplement regularly scheduled hours.
Do I need documentation to return from PEPEL leave or fitness for duty?
It depends. Contact your supervisor and describe the situation. Your supervisor will evaluate your request to return and determine if a "release to return to work" or "fitness for duty" statement is required from a health care provider. Our intent is to continue to follow MDH and CDC guidelines and the answer may change as the pandemic changes. Feel free to reach out to Payroll, your Human Resources generalist, or Labor Relations with any questions as they come up.
Workspace cleaning and disinfecting
Should I disinfect my workspace and common department work areas?
Cleaning of individual workspaces (surfaces, chairs, files, electronics, etc.) and common department work areas (conference room tables/chairs, office equipment, etc.) remains your responsibility and doing so routinely is recommended. No increased frequency is necessary in cleaning the surfaces of your personal workspace, unless you have been ill, in which case a routine cleaning would be advised. High-touch surfaces in common department work areas should be cleaned regularly. Products for cleaning of individual workspaces and common department work areas are the responsibility of the individual and department.
How should I clean electronics such as phone, computer and keyboard?
For electronics, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products. If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touchscreens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.
Cleaning tips for your computer
Use only mild cleaning solutions (non-ammonia based and non-abrasive) and a damp lint-free, soft cloth to clean the painted cover surfaces of the computer.
- Apply cleaner onto the cloth.
- Absorb the cleaner into a sponge or lint-free, soft cloth.
- Squeeze out the excess liquid from the sponge or cloth.
- Wipe the cover using a circular motion taking care not to let any excess liquid drip.
- Wipe the surface to remove any leftover cleaner.
- Rinse the sponge or cloth with clean running water and squeeze out any excess liquid.
- Wipe the cover with the clean sponge or lint-free, soft cloth.
- Wipe the surface again with a dry, lint-free, soft cloth.
- Wait for the surface to dry completely and then remove any fibers left from the sponge or cloth.
Cleaning your computer keyboard
- Absorb some isopropyl alcohol on a lint-free, soft cloth.
- Squeeze out excess liquid from the lint-free, soft cloth.
- Wipe the keytop surface with the lint-free, soft cloth, ensuring no liquid drips on or between the keys.
- Allow to dry.
Never spray or pour any liquid cleaner directly on the LCD display or the keyboard. You can use compressed air from a compressed air can to remove any crumbs and dust from beneath the keys. Do not use an air compressor.
Cleaning your computer LCD display
- Gently wipe the display with a dry, lint-free, soft cloth.
- Wipe or dust the stain gently with a dry, soft cloth.
- If a stain, smudge or other blemish remains, moisten a lint-free, soft cloth with water or a 50-50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water (distilled or deionized).
- Wring out as much of the liquid as you can from the lint-free, soft cloth.
- Wipe the display again; do not let any liquid drip into the computer.
- Allow the display to dry, then close the lid if the computer has one.
Anti-static LCD cleaning cloths, Kim Wipes and some types of lens cleaning wipes are also acceptable alternatives for a lint-free, soft cloth. Isopropyl Alcohol is a flammable liquid. Do not use this cleaner near an exposed flame or when the system is on.
Health insurance, workers' compensation and short-term disability
Will our health plan cover the cost of COVID-19 testing?
Yes. If you are a HealthPartners member, HealthPartners is waiving cost-sharing for administration for the COVID-19 laboratory test (regardless of where the test is performed). HealthPartners is also waiving cost-sharing related to an office visit or urgent care visit associated with the test. For more information, visit the HealthPartners Coronavirus page.
Should I file a workers’ compensation claim if I tested positive for COVID-19 and believe it occurred as a result of work activities?
If an employee believes an exposure event involving COVID-19 has occurred as a result of work activities, they are encouraged to report the event to the county’s workers’ compensation program through the online claim reporting portal. Minnesota statute and the specific details of the exposure will be reviewed to determine whether coverage under workers’ compensation is appropriate given the event’s circumstances.
May I use short-term disability for COVID-19?
If you are enrolled in a short-term disability insurance benefit, it may be used to cover some income if you miss work due to illness or injury. Payments only apply to your own illness or injury, not an employee’s family member’s illness or injury.
When your short-term disability benefit begins depends on the plan in which you are enrolled. You may use your accrued leave balances to cover the waiting period.
How can I receive updates about COVID-19?
With Workspace Alerts, you can be automatically notified about relevant COVID-19 updates wherever you are. Review the instructions for workspace alerts to sign up.
How will I be notified if I should not come to work?
If the facility is closing and/or release of county employees is brought about by an official declaration of an emergency or related closings, the County Manager or designee will report the closing and/or release of employees to department directors and affected staff members. The notice will may be sent out via the county’s adopted notification system, Everbridge. Department directors will also notify affected staff members directly of any changes to their operations.