Johnson County employees must start getting tested weekly for COVID-19 or show proof of vaccination

Johnson County mandatory vaccines

Johnson County officials say, starting Monday, Aug. 23, all county employees will be required to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing and can opt out if they show proof of vaccination. County officials say only 46% of county employees are currently fully vaccinated, lower than the countywide rate of roughly 58%. File image via Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

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Johnson County will soon start asking all county employees to submit to mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing if they cannot show proof of vaccination, as cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant continue to surge in the Kansas City region.

Why it matters: County officials say as of last week, just 46% of Johnson County employees were fully vaccinated, below the countywide rate of nearly 58%.

In a statement Saturday, county spokesperson Theresa Freed said the testing policy will be implemented in “an effort to maintain continuity of government and uninterrupted services while helping keep our employees safe.”

The details: The policy issued by the office of County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson goes into effect Monday, Aug. 23.

All county employees will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, unless they can provide proof of vaccination. If they can show they have been vaccinated, they can opt out of testing.

Some employees “who work in departments where direct care is provided” will be required to undergo twice-weekly testing, according to Freed.

Key quote: “With the sharp increase of the Delta variant, we want employees to be safe. Vaccination is one of the best tools we have to help prevent serious illness or passing the virus on to our colleagues or the people we serve,” Postoak Ferguson said in a statement.

Bigger picture: Johnson County’s policy mirrors similar testing policies in place for employees in Jackson County, Mo., and Kansas City, Mo.

Jackson County’s policy won’t take effect until Sept. 30. Kansas City’s policy has been in effect since June, according to the Kansas City Star.

Likewise, Kansas City Public Schools became the first major local public school district to institute mandatory testing for employees, unless they can show proof of vaccination.