More than 60 city of Hot Springs employees were unable to work Friday because of COVID-19, City Manager Bill Burrough said.
The number was up from the 52 out Thursday and represented about 10% of the city's workforce. Burrough said seven people in the customer service section of utility billing services were unable to work Friday.
"We can't even process our bills right now, but we'll get caught up Tuesday," he said.
Burrough said in addition to utility billing services, parks and trails and solid waste were the departments with the most COVID-19 absences Friday. Solid waste won't run sanitation routes Monday, as city offices are closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
"We need that extra day to hopefully get some people returning to work," Burrough said.
He said the police and fire departments have plenty of available personnel to protect public safety.
Garland County's infection curve and active case count have increased more than sevenfold since Christmas. Burrough reinstated the mask mandate in city buildings at the end of last month in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
This summer, the Hot Springs Board of Directors appropriated $190,000 from the city's $11.37 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation to pay city employees a $300 vaccine incentive.
"I can't say enough about the staff that we have," Burrough said. "We have great employees who are committed to serving our residents and visitors, and who are filling in where needed. Our goal is to continue to provide the services everyone has grown accustomed to. It is a challenge, but so far we've been able to do that."
The board of directors voted 4-1 to amend its virtual attendance policy at a special-called meeting on Tuesday, allowing city directors to vote on agenda items and participate in meetings remotely for the next 90 days.