September 6, 2022
As concern about the virus has waned, some agencies have started to allow employees to travel. And that serves as the backbone of this question.
Here are the details: A number of agency employees from several locations are gathering for an onsite meeting. Those attending are a mix of people with different vaccination histories. The question: Before the meeting, can those who are unvaccinated be screen tested to see if they’re carrying the virus?
The easy answer is no. Last month, the Biden Administration did an about face and instructed agencies to stop all COVID-19 testing aimed at unvaccinated employees.
This was a big change. The war against COVID has shifted, and unvaccinated employees will no longer be treated differently from those who have received the vaccine. Screen testing is on the way out, except, as recently updated Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance states, at “those [facilities] identified by agencies for high-risk settings.”
This begs another question. Could the meeting be a high-risk setting? And could our Ask FELTG reader use that designation to screen test unvaccinated attendees?
Well, maybe, and no.
You may think your meeting is high risk, but it’s not your decision to make. The recent guidance states whether a situation is high risk is determined following consultation with the agency COVID-19 Coordination Team, including the agency Office of General Counsel, and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.
And even if your meeting is deemed to be high risk, you still can’t limit testing to unvaccinated attendees. Per the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force:
When an agency has established a serial screening testing program for agency-identified high-risk settings, an agency should enroll all employees working in that setting (which could be a facility, multiple facilities, or certain roles, functions, or settings within those facilities), regardless of vaccination status. When serial screening testing is implemented, agencies must not differentiate among individuals on the basis of their vaccination status, pursuant to Executive Order 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance.
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