Monday, May 23, 2022

Forward Williamsburg: Nearly 200 city employees tested for the coronavirus

Staffers who test positive will be placed on two weeks of paid leave to recover. (WYDaily/Courtesy of the city of Williamsburg)
Staffers who test positive will be placed on two weeks of paid leave to recover. (WYDaily/Courtesy of the city of Williamsburg)

The city of Williamsburg started mandatory coronavirus testing of its employees Thursday, a move officials say is “part an effort to understand the rate of coronavirus infection” and to prepare for the city’s phased reopening plans.

Officials said 199 employees were tested. An additional 154 workers decided to take an optional serological test to see if they previously contracted COVID-19.

Both tests were offered at no cost, according to a news release from the city.

“These screenings are essential to the city’s strategy to protect workers and comfort those with existing circumstances that make them more vulnerable to the pandemic,” City Manager Andrew Trivette said.

Employees were tested by Virginia National Guardsmen – provided by the Virginia Department of Health — at the Williamsburg Community Building for the mandatory PCR nasal pharyngeal test for active coronavirus.

The tests will be processed at Genetworx Lab in Richmond, officials said.

About 75 percent of employees, or 154 workers, who took the mandatory test also decided to take the optional IGG serological test. These tests were administered by Velocity Urgent Care staff.

Velocity Urgent Care is using LabCorp in Richmond to process the tests, officials said.

If an employee tests positive for the coronavirus, they will be notified by the Virginia Department of Health. Notification will not be made directly to the city, although officials have asked employees to notify their supervisor if they test positive.

Staffers who test positive will be placed on two weeks of paid leave to recover, officials said in the news release.

The city earlier this week published an outline of its plans for a phased reopening, Forward Williamsburg, that is closely aligned with Gov. Ralph Northam’s Forward Virginia plan.

The city’s five-phase plan begins with current operational conditions and carries through to a return to pre-COVID-19 conditions.

Officials said the plan is designed to welcome residents back to public facilities in Phase 3 with limited services at outdoor park and recreation facilities available in Phase 2.

The Virginia National Guard was called up to assist the Virginia Department of Health to conduct point prevalence surveys across the state. The surveys began at long-term care facilities and the VDH offered to conduct such a survey for the city’s staff, officials said.

“We want a baseline understanding of how the coronavirus has impacted City staff — the confirmation of known infections and persons with COVID-19 antibodies in the city’s workforce before we start a phased reopening process,” officials said in the news release.

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John Mangalonzohttp://wydaily.com
John Mangalonzo (john@localdailymedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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