Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Atlantic County has issued a COVID-19 testing policy for unvaccinated county employees that goes into effect next week.
“Our objective is to protect the health and safety of our employees, our residents, and the customers we serve,” stated County Executive Dennis Levinson. “The steps we are taking are necessary to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 at this critical time.
The disease is now widely distributed with unknowing coronavirus carriers in different areas, so the risk of transmission becomes widespread. The daily average of COVID-19 deaths has risen 40% over the last two weeks.
“The information and guidance we receive is too often inconsistent, confusing and contradictory. It can be difficult to make informed decisions when the information is so often subject to change,” said Levinson. “But there is no denying the current surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.”
According to state officials, 99% of new cases in New Jersey are attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant. All 21 New Jersey counties are identified as having a high risk of COVID-19 transmission. The less a virus spreads, the less opportunity there is for new variants to emerge.
County employees at Meadowview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and the Justice Facility already provide proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing. The county’s testing policy will now cover all full time, part time and seasonal employees in all departments and facilities.
“We have vetted this latest requirement with all 17 bargaining units (unions) and incorporated their recommendations,” he stated. “They understand the importance of these safeguards. Their cooperation has been crucial in implementing this policy.”
Employees who cannot provide proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination must provide a negative test result each week to report to work. For their convenience, the county is providing free testing for employees at five on-site county locations.
“We are living in extraordinary times, so extraordinary measures must be implemented,” said Levinson. “In December, before vaccinations were available, we were averaging about 3,000 deaths per day. Now with 54% of America fully vaccinated, there are 2,000 deaths per day with the vast majority of hospitalizations and fatalities among the unvaccinated. This virus is deadly serious. So for the near future, we will strictly adhere to this policy.”