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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