By Andrea Lucia

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The city of Dallas is offering vaccinated employees up to an extra week of vacation, as part of new policies aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Employees received the news in an e-mail on August 27 from city manager, T.C. Broadnax.

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Anyone who can show proof they’ve been fully vaccination by Wednesday, September 1, the e-mail reads, will receive an extra week of vacation time. Those fully vaccinated by October 1 will receive an extra three days of vacation. Those fully vaccinated by November 1 will receive one extra day of vacation.

The city manager also announced, as of November 2, civilian employees will be eligible for up to two weeks of “quarantine leave” a year, but only if they are vaccinated. Police officers, firefighters, and detention officers will qualify regardless of vaccination status.

According to the city, Dallas Fire Rescue has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, and beginning Friday, every Dallas firefighter working at a fire station will start every shift being swabbed and tested for COVID. Those in support and training positions will be tested two days a week, those in administrative roles will be tested once a week.

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The testing requirement comes in response to a “steep incline in the number of positive cases” within the department.
“We were down to zero back in July… beginning of July,” said Jim McDade, president of the Dallas Firefighters Association.
Of the department’s roughly 2,000 firefighters, 81 are currently in quarantine. Of those, 41 have tested positive for COVID, four are hospitalized, two are in ICU.

“We’re still responding to all these calls, so we’re knowingly exposing ourselves. We don’t want to bring it home to our families. We don’t want to bring it home to guys at the station. We don’t want any of that,” said McDade.

He estimated at least half the force has already received a vaccine and that even more will soon. “I know for a fact. I’ve received phone calls from guys. ‘Where can I get vaccinated?’” he said.

A week off from work can be hard to pass up.

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“I don’t think any of us will complain about extra days off,” said McDade.