The availability of the vaccine has prompted many employers to begin strategizing their return-to-office planning. While teleconferencing has been an effective alternative for communication in the pandemic landscape, the vast majority of both employers and employees prefer moving towards a hybrid model. Meanwhile, many organizations are dependent upon in-person colleague or client/customer interaction in order to function successfully.
Although 30% of all US adults are now fully vaccinated (as of April 30th), vaccinations have begun to decline in recent weeks. As a result, a majority of Americans stand unprotected against the virus, and “herd immunity” continues to be out of reach. The need for routine COVID-19 testing remains critical as employees transition back to the workplace (and to pre-pandemic activities) for a number of reasons.
"Although nearly 30% of all US adults are now fully-vaccinated, “herd immunity” is still out of reach."
Employees with Health Concerns Precluding Vaccination
Not all of your employees may be able to receive the vaccination against COVID-19 or be willing to take both doses of the two-dose vaccines due to pre-existing health conditions or potential allergic reactions to vaccinations. Therefore, you may have non-vaccinated employees interacting with vaccinated employees in the workplace on any given workday – as well as interactions occurring with external visitors who may not be fully vaccinated. As a precautionary measure, periodic testing remains imperative in preventing an outbreak that could negatively impact your employees’ wellbeing and your organization’s ability to resume or maintain normal business operations.
Safeguarding Against Emerging Variants
Viruses typically evolve to become more effective over time at evading vaccines, besides becoming more infectious and lethal. The B117 variant that emerged in the United Kingdom was determined to be 50-75% more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus sparking the global pandemic. While the South African variant was more capable of infecting children, it was the Brazilian variant that demonstrated an ability to re-infect survivors of the original COVID-19 infection. While current studies indicate that the vaccine is likely effective against the emerging variants, virologists expect the virus to continue to mutate making regular testing essential to slow down transmission and prevent opportunities for mutations.
Protecting Family Members
For various reasons, vaccinated employees may have family members or persons living under the same household that are unable or have not yet received the vaccination. While the person receiving the vaccine is highly protected against COVID, there is still a risk that the vaccinated person is able to transmit the disease to someone who is not vaccinated. Ensuring that your workplace is not the cause of COVID-19 transmission to persons with vulnerabilities remains crucial in protecting the safety of your employees and their families.
Falling COVID-19 Testing Rates
Daily COVID-19 testing in the U.S. has declined by more than a third since January of this year. This reduction– largely attributed to the vaccine roll-out is concerning to public health professionals because testing remains the only way to “track and trace” infections in order to curtail the spread. Periodic COVID-19 surges have occurred in Europe throughout the pandemic that have resulted in a return to lockdowns, and the trajectory of the pandemic in the US has usually mirrored with only a few months lag-time the European shift in infection rates.
In addition, the COVID-19 infection surges have largely occurred following increased group gatherings and settings. While the vaccine steers us towards recovery, research is still being done as to how long the vaccines are able to protect us, and the CDC warns that it is still too early to let our guard down as the pandemic continues. Regular testing enables us to track the disease, prevent its spread and avoid additional lockdowns.
How TouchCare Shield Can Help
TouchCare Shield can help your company take precautionary measures to assist your employees in avoidance of COVID-19 contraction/transmission to co-workers and clients so that you can focus on your business goals and keep your employees protected safe during this time of transition.
Visit https://www.touchcare.com/tc-shield/ for more information about how we can help your employees stay safe through the COVID-19 pandemic with services including policy creation, testing, daily symptoms monitoring, and reporting.