Weekly COVID-19 testing begins for unvaccinated Johnson County workers

Tracking Coronavirus

OLATHE, Kan. – A new policy is in place for Johnson County government workers who aren’t vaccinated. This week, the county began testing.

Now, the test results are starting to roll in, according to Assistant County Manager Joe Waters.

“Staff are scheduled for testing on assigned days, primarily Monday through Thursday, in order to distribute the volume,” Waters said. “We are going to be looking at results in aggregate weekly.”

Johnson County employees who are unvaccinated are required to get weekly COVID tests. The new policy started Monday, and the county health department supports the move.

“It is our responsibility to do what we can across the county,” Health Director Sanmi Areola said.

He’s glad to hear cities like Prairie Village and Roeland Park are mandating masks in indoor spaces. He also fully supports the county requiring unvaccinated employees to get tested every week.

“It’s the common sense thing to do,” Areola said. “When you test people who are unvaccinated, you discover cases quickly and control the infection.”

The county provides government workers with the saliva test kits.

Currently, 66% of Johnson County employees are fully vaccinated, according to self-reported data. An additional 4% have some level of vaccination but are not yet complete. 

Employees working entirely remote do not need to test. If they come onsite, that week they’ll submit a test.

The program allows vaccinated workers to get tested, too. Areola suggested those people should test if they’ve been exposed, develop symptoms or if they’ve been to a large gathering.

Areola said the number of fully vaccinated people who live in Johnson County is good, but there’s more work to be done to ensure schools and workplaces aren’t breeding grounds for COVID-19.

“We cannot keep a safe school environment or working environment if we don’t bring the level of spread or the level of activity of the virus down,” Areola said. “It is currently too high.”

Areola said the high number of people needing hospital care due to COVID puts pressure on the entire health system.

“That is why we have to do the right thing,” Areola said. “We have to bring the number of infections down; we have to bring positivity rates down.”

“This testing program is one of our efforts to maintain continuity of government during this pandemic to help us provide uninterrupted programs and services to our community,” Waters said.

Working for you, FOX4 asked how many county workers are impacted by this testing and if anyone’s tested positive yet. No one with the county could answer those questions right now, saying they plan to gather the data weekly.

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