Google tells anyone coming into the office to take weekly Covid tests amid omicron surge

- Advertisement -

  • Google told employees in a memo that it would implement mandatory testing as a “temporary measure” due to rising infection rates from the Omicron version.
  • Google’s Chief Health Officer Karen DeSalvo said the company expects a “significant increase” in Omicron infections in the coming weeks.
  • Google’s relationship with testing company Q Health gives it unique insight into COVID-19 trends.

- Advertisement -

Google is implementing a new COVID-19 testing policy for its US work sites as it prepares for a continued increase in infections from the Omicron version in the coming weeks.

- Advertisement -

In an email sent Thursday to full-time employees and obtained by Businesshala, Google’s health chief Karen DeSalvo said anyone who comes into contact with a Google office or facility will need a negative molecular test. They should also report their vaccination status and wear surgical-grade masks to the office, the memorandum said.

“The Omicron version has become the dominant strain in then-America and is highly permeable,” DiSalvo wrote. “There has been a significant increase in infections across the country, and hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID patients – reducing their ability to care for others who need it.”

- Advertisement -

Google has been more aggressive than its tech peers of late in implementing COVID-19 safeguards among workers. Last month, the company told employees they must comply with vaccine policies or face losing pay and eventually losing their jobs. This marked a change by officials, who had said only a few months ago that the company would not make vaccines mandatory.

Several hundred Google employees signed and circulated a manifesto protesting the company’s broad COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

When it comes to testing, Google is preparing for a moment like this. In April, Google began providing employees with at-home COVID-19 tests from Q Health. This is the largest private sector customer of the testing company.

Four months later, Google’s cloud division entered into a separate agreement with Q to develop real-time variant tracking and sequencing of COVID-19, a partnership that gives Google unparalleled access to testing and variant data.

“We expect this to continue for the next few weeks,” DeSalvo wrote, adding that the new testing rule is temporary. “During this period of increased risk, we are making it a matter of policy to receive weekly molecular tests (eg PCR, Q) if you are coming into the office.”

DiSalvo reminded employees that Google offers at-home and in-person viral testing options for both full-time employees and the expanded workforce, which includes temps, vendors, and contractors. a recent report Businesshala said Google’s expanded workforce had to wait longer for test results than full-time employees.

In an email to Businesshala, a Google spokesperson said the company is “implementing new temporary health and safety measures for anyone accessing our sites in the US” and to make “workplaces and communities as safe as possible.” Making policies.

DeSalvo said the molecular tests will help ease pressure on clinics, schools and pharmacies, which have struggled to keep rapid antigen testing supplies in stock.

Google has more than 150,000 full-time employees and roughly the same number of contractors and vendors. As of mid-December, executives said the company has now opened 90% of its US offices and that in recent weeks, about 40% of its US employees had moved into a facility at some point.

Google was expecting its employees to return to physical offices from January, but it pushed back its plan last month, citing concerns about infection rates. However, officials did not name Omicron at the time and still encouraged employees to come “where conditions permit”.

Supreme Court goes in the opposite direction

While Google is tightening its mandate, federal regulations are going in the opposite direction. The Supreme Court on Thursday barred the Biden administration from enforcing its broader vaccine-or-testing requirements for large private companies. The mandate requires that workers in businesses with 100 or more employees be vaccinated or submit a negative COVID test weekly to enter the workplace with a January 18 deadline.

Google executives have used the federal requirements as an explanation for enforcing its internal policies, arguing that the company’s broad work with the government means that everyone must abide by it regardless of whether they are in office. have come or not.

Google told the employees Those in December who did not comply with vaccination rules by January 18 would be placed on “paid administrative leave” for 30 days. After that, they will be placed on “unpaid personal leave” for up to six months, after which they will be terminated.

DiSalvo’s note added more specific instructions on safety in light of the Omicron surge.

She advised employees to use non-fabric or “high-quality surgical masks”. She also said that they should stay home if they are not feeling well, even if “it’s just allergies.” DeSalvo recommends testing employees as close to the time of an event or office attendance as possible.

“You may not be showing any symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19 to others,” she wrote, adding that vaccinated workers should get their boosters “as soon as possible” if they haven’t already.

Watch: Google employees will lose their wages and eventually their jobs for not following vaccination rules


- Advertisement -

Stay on top - Get the daily news in your inbox

DMCA / Correction Notice

Recent Articles

Related Stories

Stay on top - Get the daily news in your inbox