By Mark P. Stevenson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Member of the WE ACT Alliance
The global health pandemic is far from over. As a country, the United States has made significant advances over the last year to better understand, treat, and prevent COVID-19. Despite all of the progress, continued vaccine hesitancy combined with a decline in national testing challenge our ability to fully recover from the pandemic. Simply put, we can’t have economic recovery without good health.
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While leaders at the federal, state and local government level and public health agencies have championed efforts to educate, test and vaccinate, they cannot turn the page on this pandemic alone. Corporate America has a meaningful tradition of supporting public health initiatives, and at this critical time, must be more active partners in addressing and overcoming the remaining challenges of COVID-19. By using our collective influence and trust, American corporations can be effective partners in society’s fight against COVID-19.
Just as corporations have been key bulwarks in the annual fight against the flu, they can continue to support public health by encouraging employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations. The virus is mutating and experts believe it is likely to be with us for years to come. Providing access to annual inoculations will be one critical way for corporations to materially support meaningful public health efforts. This shouldn’t have to break the bank to be effective, as COVID-19 vaccinations are covered under most employer health plans.
But vaccines are only part of the equation for our society’s return to normal. The Biden-Harris administration has sought to set up regular, reliable and affordable – if not free – testing for all Americans. In addition to vaccines, prompt diagnosis through testing and isolation are still the foundation for limiting the spread of COVID-19. For employers considering returning employees to workplaces or trying to keep facilities open, a testing strategy to control potential outbreaks will remain critical. Without broad testing and accurate tracking of COVID-19 cases, public health decisions are made in an information vacuum.
America’s business community can be a true partner to government in support of public health. Employer-based testing is a powerful tool that must be a component of any comprehensive public health testing strategy. In fact, employer-based testing efforts are already underway at Thermo Fisher Scientific.
The company initiated its voluntary employee testing program last year to supplement COVID-19 safety protocols that were already in place. By participating in the free testing, colleagues are helping to protect not only their work sites, but also their friends, family and communities. Most recently, the company introduced the ReadyCheckGo Program in partnership with Color Health. While initially launched as a simple, quick and cost-effective COVID-19 testing solution that is administered onsite at K-12 schools, it is now available to test the business, entertainment, travel and higher education communities.
Corporations can help governments accelerate a responsible return to and reopening of America’s workplaces. To achieve this, businesses should be included as partners in governments’ plans so that they can help define their roles and understand how they can best contribute. Businesses also have a key role in reinforcing safe behaviors. Here, they can play another key role through in-house education initiatives that encourage testing and vaccinations. They can also require masks and social distancing on-site, steps that have been proven to improve public health as work to get the pandemic under control—and our economy back on track—continues.
Embracing public health partnerships enables business to underscore their leadership against the pandemic, now and against future outbreaks. In implementing these commonsense measures in support of employee education, COVID-19 testing and vaccination, corporations become change agents, getting Americans to work faster and more safely, while supporting our economic recovery and getting us back to business as usual.
To learn more about Thermo Fisher Scientific’s COVID-19 testing solutions, please visit https://www.thermofisher.com/covid19