KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs announced Friday a temporary furlough for county government employees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are facing this challenge directly and making decisions that will help us continue providing the services our residents depend on,” Jacobs said.

“The decision to furlough employees was incredibly difficult and the hardest move I’ve made as Mayor,” he said in a news release. “We held off as long as we could and do not take this lightly because we know it affects real people’s livelihoods.

“We expect these furloughs to be temporary and hope that everyone will be back to work very soon. Though this certainly isn’t something we wanted to do, we need to watch our spending during these uncertain times.”

The furlough will affect a yet-to-be-determined number of employees in the fee offices and every executive branch department, according to a news release from Knox County.

Furloughed employees will continue to receive health coverage and other benefits from Knox County in addition to up to $275 per week from the State of Tennessee and $600 from the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relieve and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for a total of up $875 per week while unemployed.

Employees will officially start what’s technically classified as an eight-week furlough on May 9 but will continue working – and be paid – through May 8 to give county Human Resources time to file unemployment paperwork.

It is the intent of Knox County to bring everyone back to work, though furlough extensions remain a possibility, a news release said.