Google tells anyone entering the office to take a weekly Covid test

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

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Google A new Covid-19 testing policy is being implemented for its U.S. workplaces as it prepares for a continued surge in infections due to variants of Omicron in the coming weeks.

In an email sent to full-time employees on Thursday and obtained by CNBC, Google’s health director, Karen DeSalvo, said anyone in contact with a Google office or facility would need to take a negative molecular test. They should also report their vaccinations and wear surgical masks in the office, the memo said.

“The Omicron variant had become the dominant strain in the United States at the time and was highly transmissible,” DeSalvo wrote. “There has been a marked rise in infections across the country and hospitals are overcrowded with Covid-19 patients – reducing their ability to provide care to others in need.”

Google has recently been more aggressive than its tech peers in enforcing Covid-19 safety measures among its employees.Last month, the company told employees that they obligated to follow With the vaccine policy or face losing wages and eventually jobs.This marks a shift for executives, who said just a few months ago The company will not mandate a vaccine.

Hundreds of Googlers sign And circulated a manifesto against the company’s expanded Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

Speaking of testing, Google has been preparing for a moment like this. In April, Google started supply Covid-19 testing at home Tips for Health to employees. It is the testing company’s largest private sector customer.

Four months later, Google’s cloud division entered into a separate agreement with Cue to develop real-time variant tracking and sequencing for Covid-19, a partnership that gives Google unique access to testing and variant data.

“We expect this to continue over the next few weeks,” DeSalvo wrote, adding that the new testing rules are temporary. “During this high-risk period, if you’re going into the office, we’re making weekly molecular testing (eg PCR, Cue) a matter of policy.”

DeSalvo reminded employees that Google offers free at-home and on-site virus testing options for full-time and extended employees, including temporary workers, suppliers and contractors.a recent report Bloomberg said Google’s extended employees waited longer for test results than full-time employees.

In an email to CNBC, a Google spokesperson said the company is “implementing new temporary health and safety measures for anyone visiting our sites in the U.S.” and is developing policies to keep “workplaces and communities as safe as possible.” Possibly Safe”.

Molecular testing will help relieve pressure on clinics, schools and pharmacies that have struggled to keep supplies of rapid antigen tests in stock, DeSalvo said.

Google has more than 150,000 full-time employees and an almost equal number of contractors and suppliers. As of mid-December, the company had opened 90 percent of its U.S. offices so far, and nearly 40 percent of its U.S. workforce had traveled to a factory at some point in recent weeks, executives said.

Google had been expecting its employees to return to brick-and-mortar offices starting in January, but it push back Its plans last month were prompted by concerns about infection rates. Executives, however, did not name Omicron at the time, but still encouraged employees to continue entering “where conditions permit.”

Supreme Court goes in opposite direction

While Google is stepping up its mandate, federal rules appear to be moving in the opposite direction.Supreme Court Thursday blocked The Biden administration does not enforce its sweeping vaccine or testing requirements for large private companies. The order requires workers at businesses with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or submit negative Covid tests weekly in order to enter the workplace by the Jan. 18 deadline.

Google executives have used federal requirements as an explanation for enforcing its internal policies, arguing that the company’s extensive cooperation with the government means everyone must comply, whether they enter the office or not.

Google tell the staff In December, those who did not comply with vaccination rules by January 18 will be placed on “paid administrative leave” for 30 days. After that, they will be placed on “unpaid personal leave” for up to six months before being fired.

Given the surge in Omicron, DeSalvo’s note added more specific safety guidance.

She advises employees to use non-cloth or “high-quality surgical masks.” She also said they should stay home if they’re not feeling well, even if it’s “just an allergy”. DeSalvo recommends that employees be tested at events or office hours whenever possible.

“You may not be showing any symptoms, but you may still be spreading Covid-19 to other people,” she wrote, adding that vaccinated employees should get a booster “as soon as possible,” if they haven’t already. .

watch: If Google employees don’t follow vaccination rules, they will lose pay and eventually jobs