Deschutes County is looking to extend the contracts of four COVID-19-related positions for an additional six months through June 2023.
On Monday, Deschutes County COVID-19 program manager Emily Horton brought the request to Deschutes County Commissioners.
Horton says rehiring these individuals would cost a lot more than keeping them around for additional time.
The positions, most of which are vaccine-related, are currently contracted to end at the end of this year.
“One is an admin assistant, one is a logistics coordinator type person, so they do a lot of the administration and contract work as well as logistics of setting up the clinic,” Horton said. “Then two nursing positions that actually give vaccines.”
Commissioners did not vote on the request, but Horton says it is looking promising.
“They had some great questions,” Horton said. “But we went over why it was really important and ultimately it sounds like they’re going to approve that extension.”
An extension would allow for the continuation of local vaccine clinics and vaccine outreach.
As for other COVID positions that have been created within the county, that may also need to be addressed in the future.
“It’s just really hard to tell what comes next and what our response will need to be,” Horton said. “So yeah, we certainly could be before the commission asking for position extensions or new positions at any time.”
Horton’s own position could also be affected.
She adds an extension would allow employees in these temporary roles to plan ahead past the pandemic.
“Having an end date and being able to plan ahead for what comes next is really important for people’s work-life balance,” Horton said. “And just their longevity and understanding what’s happening.”
Commissioners will likely make a decision on the request next week.