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While thousands of state employees returned to their workplaces Monday, the vast majority of them never stopped working.

“Our state workforce never stopped providing services,” said Sarah Steelman, commissioner of the state Office of Administration. “When Gov. (Mike) Parson issued his stay-at-home order in March, we took action to get as many employees working from home as possible.”

As of Friday, 14,930 state workers — almost 40 percent of her workforce — were working remotely, Steelman said in a News Tribune story late last week. She added 21,771 employees — direct care providers, corrections guards, nurses and maintenance workers — remained physically on the job in institutions throughout Missouri.

Steelman said 3,915 employees could not report for work, were on administrative leave or could not work for other reasons.

“I’m pleased to report that we have been performing at about 94 percent of our capacity,” she said. “And that percentage includes a little measure of the diminished services that had to be reduced or delayed.”

She emphasized many state employees have worked long hours, including weekends, over the past six weeks to ensure people are being helped.

Many state workers, like many private-sector workers, often are taken for granted. When there’s a problem, they hear about it. However, as long as the services people expect are being provided, they don’t hear anything.

Unfortunately, the Missouri Legislature removed a 2 percent cost-of-living pay increase for state employees in the upcoming fiscal budget. But we get it — the coronavirus is going to cause many more budget cuts and service reductions before everything is said and done.

While a “thank you” doesn’t help to pay the bills, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank state employees who have remained dedicated to their jobs during the pandemic.

News Tribune

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