According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Google is now offering its employees free coronavirus tests every Friday. The company is footing the bill for these tests on behalf of all of its 90,000 employees based in the US. So far, it is the biggest company to take these measures, despite the fact that a majority of its workforce is still working from home.
Employees seemed so enthusiastic about this new initiative that the website set up to handle the administration side of this endeavor crashed soon after it went live.
As mentioned, Google is offering COVID-19 tests to all of its employees once a week and this goes for employees that work for platforms that are owned by Google such as YouTube as well. The tests are said to yield results within three weeks and will cost Google up to $4.5 million per week. This works out to about $50 per test, which is what the company conducting the tests, BioIQ, will charge Google for the service.
Google is mainly encouraging its asymptomatic employees to take the weekly tests in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 which appears to be going through a second wave.
This comes at a time when the first dose of vaccines is being rolled out and the first wave of healthcare workers have received them as well. The Food and Drug Administration approved a second vaccine for emergency use this past Friday. This particular jab was produced by well-known biotech firm Moderna.
Although other companies have taken the initiative to offer COVID-19 testing to their employees in the past, Google is by far the biggest company to take the same initiative for employees who are currently working from home.
Google plans to reopen its companies and return to some form of normal operations as early as the beginning of March in 2021. These plans are for the company’s US workforce though and there’s no indication of what will happen in its other HQs and satellite offices around the world. One can only presume that their reopening will depend on how the individual countries are choosing to handle the COVID-19 crisis.
Of course, Google has indicated that it would make the COVID-19 self-administered test kits available to its international workforce as well at some point next year.
According to the company responsible for distributing the COVID-19 testing kit, BioIQ, it works very simply and is easy to self-administer. An employee simply needs to utilize the nasal swab as directed and then send it to the lab for analysis.
According to Google, employees are entitled to two tests per week. The good news is that Google won’t force its employees to take the tests as they aren’t mandatory but rather encouraged and recommended. There will be no consequences for employees who choose to not get tested, ensuring a fair work environment for all.