Fedweek

Wilkes-Barre, Penn. - Jan 2022: A health worker wearing a PPE collects a nasal swab sample from a woman at a drive thru testing site. With the new Omicron variant Covid-19 surge, testing sites are seeing long lines for testing. Employees from AMI Expeditionary Healthcare have been moving from hotel to hotel and working 12 hour days, 4-5 days a week to test community members for Covid-19.

New administration guidance provides specifics of required regular testing of unvaccinated federal employees for the Coronavirus, including that agencies may use any FDA-approved viral tests, currently meaning antigen tests and nucleic acid application tests (reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction tests are a type of the latter).

Other policies are to include (in its words):

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· Options for testing methods include: (1) in-store or drive-through point-of-care testing, such as at pharmacies, (2) swab-testing capabilities that enable an individual to collect the specimen—using a self-collection kit—and drop it off at a designated collection location or ship it to a laboratory, (3) over-the-counter tests, as long as those tests are not both self-administered and self-read by the employee unless observed by the agency or an authorized telehealth provider, or (4) other self-administered tests, as long as those tests are not also self-read by the employee unless observed by the agency or an authorized telehealth provider.

· Agencies should establish a means of verifying the date and result of a test—the test should not be both self-administered and self-read by the employee unless observed by the agency or an authorized onsite or telehealth provider.

· Agencies are required to pay for the cost of screening testing of federal employees pursuant to the agency’s screening testing program. Agencies are also responsible for paying the cost of required testing should an employee visit another federal agency if the employee’s agency has approved the visit in advance. Agencies can either pay for the testing directly or reimburse employees for required tests.

· An agency should only authorize an employee to spend time related to screening testing during the employee’s basic tour of duty hours and only for the amount of time necessary. Agencies should determine the amount of time to authorize employees to take to travel to the testing site (if travel is required), complete testing, and return to work.

· Federal employees who have been exposed to persons with COVID-19 at work should receive diagnostic testing at no cost to the employee . . . An agency is not responsible for providing diagnostic testing to an individual as a result of a potential exposure that is not work-related.

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