Nursing homes overwhelmed by coronavirus: ‘It is impossible for us to stop the spread’
Some quarantined deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department may go unpaid as the sheriff and county chief executive feud over payments to those ordered to stay home last month over coronavirus concerns.
The spat emerged during the countrywide outbreak of COVID-19 and just days after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors removed Sheriff Alex Villanueva as head of the county’s emergency operations center and replaced him with LA County CEO Sachi Hamai.
Villanueva said that officers quarantined after April 1 will receive new emergency benefits and said the county CEO would not pay out similar benefits to officers quarantined last month.
”County leaders decided to follow new federal guidelines that took effect today, which state from April 1 forward, employees get 80 hours of paid sick leave if quarantined,” he told the outlet.
“Those who don’t have sick time or vacation time are just not going to be paid” if they were quarantined before that date, he added. “It’s a big problem with me.”
Hamai’s office called that “inaccurate” in a statement, saying Villanueva knew in advance that the federal government, not the county, set up the new benefits for workers affected by COVID-19 going forward.
“The sheriff is responsible for his own decisions if he ordered employees to be placed on home leave,” Hamai said in the statement. “As a department head, he should be well aware that employees he orders to stay at home should be placed on paid administrative leave.”
Spokespersons for both the CEO’s office and the sheriff declined to clarify about who ordered the deputies to stay home.
But, in a letter to the county board of supervisors, Villanueva on Wednesday asked for COVID-19-related absences prior to April 1 to be retroactively labeled paid administrative leave and to compensate quarantined workers at 100 percent of their daily salary going forward in cases where the federal benefits would pay less.
Millions of people across the country have been out of work due to the coronavirus crisis, which has prompted stay-at-home orders, closures of nonessential businesses, quarantines and other restrictions.
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] urged Americans to avoid close contact with sick people, to slow the spread of COVID-19. They also urged citizens to stay at home if they themselves were sick, to avoid placing those who couldn’t work remotely — such as deputies and other essential workers — at risk and in a bind.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States climbed to at least 234,462 Thursday afternoon, with at least 10,018 of them in California, the third-highest count in the U.S. At least 5,607 people have died across the country, the estimates showed.