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


Google CEO Sundar Pichai

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Google is implementing a brand new Covid-19 testing coverage for its U.S. work websites because it prepares for a continued surge in infections from the Omicron variant in the coming weeks.

In an electronic mail despatched to full-time staff on Thursday and obtained by CNBC, Google’s well being chief Karen DeSalvo mentioned anyone who comes into contact with a Google office or facility would require a adverse molecular take a look at. They also needs to report their vaccination standing and put on surgical-grade masks whereas at the office, the memo mentioned.

“The Omicron variant has become the dominant strain in then U.S. and is highly transmissible,” DeSalvo wrote. “There has been a significant rise in infection across the country, and hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID patients — reducing their capacity to provide care to others who need it.”

Google has been extra aggressive of late than its tech friends in implementing Covid-19 security measures amongst staff. Last month, the firm informed staff that they must comply with vaccine insurance policies or face shedding pay and finally shedding their job. That marked a shift by executives, who just a few months earlier said the firm wouldn’t mandate vaccines.

Several hundred Google staff signed and circulated a manifesto opposing the firm’s widened Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

When it comes to testing, Google has been getting ready for a second like this. In April, Google began providing at-home Covid-19 tests from Cue Health to staff. It’s the testing firm’s largest non-public sector buyer.

Four months later, Google’s cloud division entered into a separate settlement with Cue to develop real-time variant monitoring and sequencing of Covid-19, a partnership that offers Google distinctive entry to testing and variant information.

“We expect this to continue over the next few weeks,” DeSalvo wrote, including that the new testing rule is non permanent. “During this period of heightened risk, we are making it a matter of policy to get a weekly molecular test (e.g. PCR, Cue) if you are coming into the office.”

DeSalvo reminded staff that Google presents free at-home and in-person viral testing choices to each full-time staffers and the prolonged workforce, which incorporates temps, distributors and contractors. A latest report by Bloomberg mentioned Google’s prolonged workforce had longer wait instances for take a look at outcomes in contrast to full-time staff.

In an electronic mail to CNBC, a Google spokesperson mentioned the firm is “implementing new temporary health and safety measures for anyone accessing our sites in the US,” and is placing insurance policies in place to make “workplaces and communities as safe as possible.”

DeSalvo mentioned the molecular tests will assist alleviate strain on clinics, faculties and pharmacies, which have struggled to hold speedy antigen take a look at provides in inventory.

Google has greater than 150,000 full-time staff and practically the identical quantity of contractors and distributors. As of mid-December, executives mentioned the firm had thus far opened 90% of its U.S. places of work and, in latest weeks, practically 40% of its U.S. staff went to a facility sooner or later.

Google had been anticipating its workforce to return to bodily places of work beginning in January, but it surely pushed back its plans final month, citing issues round an infection charges. However, executives did not title Omicron at the time and nonetheless inspired staff to proceed coming in “where conditions allow.”

Supreme Court goes in wrong way

While Google is strengthening its mandates, federal guidelines seem to be getting in the wrong way. The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from implementing its sweeping vaccine-or-test necessities for massive non-public firms. The mandate required that staff at companies with 100 or extra staff get vaccinated or submit a adverse Covid take a look at weekly to enter the office with a deadline of Jan. 18.

Google executives have used the federal necessities as an evidence for implementing its inner insurance policies, arguing that the firm’s in depth work with the authorities means everybody should comply no matter whether or not they come into the office.

Google told employees in December that those that have not complied with the vaccination guidelines by Jan. 18, can be positioned on “paid administrative leave” for 30 days. After that, they’re going to be placed on “unpaid personal leave” for up to six months, adopted by termination.

DeSalvo’s be aware added extra particular instructions on security in gentle of the Omicron surge.

She suggested staff to use a non-cloth or “high quality surgical mask.” She additionally mentioned they need to keep residence if they are not feeling effectively, even when “it’s just allergies.” DeSalvo advisable staff take a look at as shut as attainable to the time of an occasion or office look.

“You may not be showing any symptoms, but you could still be spreading Covid-19 to others,” she wrote, including that vaccinated staff ought to get their booster “as soon as possible” in the event that they have not already.

WATCH: Google employees to lose pay and eventually their jobs if they don’t follow vaccination rules

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