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Ask Us: Are hospital employees required to receive COVID-19 vaccine?

Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to askus@salisburypost.com.

Novant Health says staff members are not required to receive COVID-19 vaccines, but it has a goal of vaccinating 80% of staff members and has already topped 64%.

The health care company’s statement comes in response to a reader question about whether employees at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center are required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The 64% number is higher than the number of residents in the state who have received at least one dose of a vaccine — about 48% — and more than double Rowan County’s 24%.

The number of people in clinical roles have an even higher acceptance of the vaccine — 91% for physicians.

In an emailed statement, a Novant Health spokesperson said the company put in place extensive measures for patient and staff safety before a vaccine arrived in December, including universal masking, enhanced cleaning, social distancing, visitor restrictions and screening of people who comes into facilities.

“Even though we have these safety parameters in place, it is our hope that every single team member at Novant Health gets the vaccine,” the company said in its emailed statement.

The company said it’s like health care systems across the country in seeing some staff members who do not want to be vaccinated.

“Our hope is that Novant Health team members will choose to model for our community and get immunized,” the company said in its emailed statement.

Novant Health said it’s offering bi-weekly calls with infections disease experts and pharmacists, sharing testimonials internally about people who have received the vaccine and bringing the vaccine to people at times that are convenient for them.

When will city hire director of Downtown Salisbury Inc.?

Nearly 10 months after Larissa Harper moved on from her role as director of Downtown Salisbury Inc. and city government’s downtown development director, her position is still not permanently filled.

One reader asked when the city of Salisbury will fill the position.

The answer, according to city officials, is there’s no firm date.

City Manager Lane Bailey says a recruitment process started two weeks ago after the city and the downtown organization finalized a memorandum of understanding. The two organizations worked to update the agreement for a few months, which produced the delay, Bailey said.

The director of DSI became a city employee in 2017 after previously being an employee of the independent nonprofit organization. Latoya Price is currently serving as interim director.

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