Savage City Hall

Savage City Hall

City of Savage employees who’ve not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will be required to wear masks during periods of high community transmission, according to a new policy outlined by city officials this month.

The Savage City Council voted on Monday to develop a policy that’ll require unvaccinated employees to wear masks while working indoors.

The requirement will be in effect during times, such as the present, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data indicates high levels of community transmission in Scott County.

The council represented differing opinions during Monday’s discussion on the city’s COVID-19 policies.

Councilwoman Christine Kelly said the city should continue to encourage, but not require, masking indoors.

Councilman Bob Coughlen said the city’s policy should require all employees to wear masks indoors during periods of high community transmission.

The latest data shows vaccinated individuals may still become infected and spread the virus, Coughlen argued, and the CDC recommends masking indoors regardless of vaccination status during COVID-19 surges.

Savage Mayor Janet Williams said she also supports employees being required to wear masks indoors.

Councilman Gene Abbott said he’d support a mask requirement if employees are allowed to take their masks off while in private offices and cubicles.

Councilman Matt Johnson said requiring all employees to be vaccinated is the best way to ensure protection from COVID-19 and help end the pandemic.

City Administrator Brad Larson said he’s aware of a “handful” of city employees who have not been vaccinated, although the city hasn’t yet formally asked employees to disclose their vaccination status.

“There’s a variety of reasons,” Larson told the council. “Some are medical and some just don’t want to do it.”

Johnson proposed the city require unvaccinated employees to submit to regular testing and wear a mask.

Vaccinated employees, he said, shouldn’t be required to wear a mask at work because they’ve already taken the most important step to protect themselves and others.

“This mask isn’t really going to make a big difference other than making people feel better,” Johnson said.

“The science says otherwise,” Coughlen responded.

During Monday’s meeting, Johnson and Coughlen met in the middle on a plan to require masking for unvaccinated employees during periods of high community transmission.

The motion passed 4-1 with Kelly voting against.

In an email to the Savage Pacer, Larson said the city’s policy will be developed and rolled-out in the next week or two.

Employees will be given time to provide proof of vaccination or get vaccinated if they choose, Larson stated.

“To be clear, we are not mandating the vaccine for employees,” he wrote.