National and local leadership will temporarily pause routine COVID-19 surveillance testing of employees who are not vaccinated (i.e., have religious or medical exemptions).
We are basing this decision on several factors:
- Available data indicates that a primary series with currently available COVID-19 vaccines provides minimal protection from asymptomatic infection and mild disease from the currently circulating variants;
- The cost of testing is significant (e.g., the “all in” cost of a test is about $50…testing 500 employees in a Division every week would cost about $1.3 million/year);
- The incentive to be vaccinated to avoid surveillance testing has likely lessened at this stage of the pandemic; and
- Managing, tracking and enforcing the testing requirement is complex.
This change will take effect the week of September 5, 2022.
Please note this is only a pause. If circumstances warrant (e.g., a substantially more effective vaccine against transmission is available, a more deadly variant emerges), national and local leadership may need to reinstate routine employee surveillance testing. Finally, other mitigation strategies (e.g., universal masking and reminders to stay home if symptomatic) remain important and must be continued.
Thank you for your ongoing leadership, resilience and patience.