With more employers expressing interest in testing their workforce for SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – KDHE developed an Employer COVID-19 Testing Playbook. The Playbook is intended to support businesses that wish to offer employee testing to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in their workplace and help keep their businesses open. Just as schools in Kansas are successfully keeping schools open safely by identifying cases and stopping outbreaks, employers can use COVID-19 testing to screen against the virus and protect their employees and customers.
“As businesses and employers prioritize safe environments for employees and customers, COVD-19 testing is become an increasingly important way for those who are unvaccinated to work, attend events, and travel,” said Lee Norman, MD, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “Although vaccination remains the most effective way to protect against serious illness and death due to COVID-19, testing can also play a vital role.”
KDHE’s new Employer Playbook provides an overview of COVID-19 testing for employees, to include describing the types of tests and how they are administered, policies for managing employees who test positive, a menu of vendors who can help businesses with testing, and an explanation of the types of tests for which insurance will reimburse.
The Playbook will be incorporated into the state’s unified testing strategy that Governor Laura Kelly introduced a year ago. Through partnerships with commercial labs and Wichita State University (WSU), Kansas was able to double the amount of testing by the end of 2020. With this summer’s delta variant surge and limited federal funding for testing, KDHE plans to work with labs, community testing partners, and local public health departments to update the unified testing strategy in the coming weeks.
“I have been gratified by the many community partners who have worked with us to ensure increased access to COVID-19 testing,” said Marci Nielsen, PhD, Chief Advisor for COVID-19 Coordination for Governor Kelly. “We appreciate their continued leadership as we work together to update the unified testing strategy and ensure its financial sustainability”.
Until COVID-19 vaccination is widespread, employers and health insurers will increasingly be asked to pay for COVID-19 testing. Even with rates of delta variant slowly falling, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not expected to go away. Scientists expect SARS-CoV2 to continue circulating in the population, not unlike the flu. Moving forward, it will be a shared responsibility to finance for both the public and private sector to ensure Kansans across the state have access to testing. The Employer Playbook will help enable employers with the tools to test their workforce for the virus, and help prevent its spread.