Links listed regarding memorandum “COVID-19: Employee Home Self-Testing”:
021422 – COVID-19 Employee Home Self-Testing Updated
Attachment — COVID-19 Employee Home Self-Testing
- Veterans Health Administration (VHA) continues to implement measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Symptomatic employees or employees that have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested, regardless of vaccination or booster Self-testing is one of several risk-reduction strategies to rapidly test individuals and reduce the chances of COVID-19 transmission in VHA. Given the widespread availability of home antigen (Ag) tests through Federal and other public sources, employees may use a non-VHA administered, home self Ag test authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an alternative to the standard process of testing on-site in VHA.
- Home antigen self-tests for COVID-19 may benefit Veterans and employees by:
- Increasing access to testing and reducing turnaround time across the VHA enterprise
- Allowing employees who become symptomatic to rapidly confirm COVID positivity without the need to travel to duty station
- Reducing workload on Employee Occupational Health, Laboratory, and other staff involved in COVID-19 testing and management
- Proctored or unproctored employee home antigen self-tests may be used for:
- Employees with onset of symptoms while off-station
- Symptomatic employees with a negative home self-test must obtain Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing for confirmation at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility or, alternatively, from a non- VA certified laboratory (e.g., hospital, clinic, or reference laboratory). A negative home antigen test does not completely exclude the possibility that an individual is positive for COVID-19.
- Symptomatic employees with a positive home self-test should immediately self-isolate and contact Employee Occupational Health to report the positive result and determine what, if any, required work restrictions apply. Employees with a positive test result should also notify their employer/supervisor and follow the applicable risk mitigation measures/safety
- Asymptomatic Employees with high-risk exposures to COVID who are in a “test to stay at work” status and following guidance outlined in the AUSHO memorandum “COVID-19: Maximizing Safety During Conventional, Contingency, and Crisis Staffing” from January 7, 2022 (e.g., boosted employees at facilities in conventional status, unboosted/unvaccinated employees at facilities in contingency status). Facilities may opt to require on-site testing for staff whose responsibilities would lead to higher risk of transmission to a vulnerable
- Employees on Isolation for Confirmed COVID-19 who are in a “test to return to work” status and following guidance outlined in the AUSHO memorandum “COVID-19: Maximizing Safety During Conventional, Contingency, and Crisis Staffing” from January 7, 2022 (e.g., asymptomatic infected or infected and recovering from mild illness in conventional or contingency status).
- Employees with onset of symptoms while off-station
- It is in the interest of all concerned for VHA to accept proctored or unproctored employee home self-test results under a defined set of circumstances. However, unproctored employee home antigen self-tests are currently not accepted as part of the Unvaccinated Employee Monitoring Program (UEMP), whereby unvaccinated employees are required to test regularly per Safer Federal Workforce Task Force Unproctored employee home antigen self-tests are also currently not accepted for the ongoing monitor testing program for Community Living Center (CLC) and Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder (SCI/D) – Long-Term Care (LTC) staff.
- Employees are expected to perform home antigen self-testing, using an FDA authorized test, in accordance with the FDA Emergency Use Authorization instructions for use in the test package. In cases where concern exists about an individual employee’s ability to perform a home test with good technique and in good faith, a facility’s leadership may opt to require on-site
- Employees must report any home test results that are 1) positive and/or 2) required for the purpose of employee management (e.g., test to return to work) to Employee Occupational
- The Office of Workers Compensation Program (OWCP) does not accept “home tests” that are self-administered as sufficient to establish a diagnosis of COVID-19 under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) because there is no way to affirmatively establish (1) the date and time the sample was collected and (2) that the sample collected is that of the injured Federal employee making the The only exception to this policy is where the administration of the self-test is monitored by a medical professional and the results are verified through documentation submitted by such professional.
- FECA Bulletin 21-09 (Processing FECA Claims for COVID-19 under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021), issued on April 28, 2021, provides more detail on claims processing and requirements.
- Further updates to this guidance will be provided in future versions of the VHA COVID Testing
- For questions concerning this memorandum or employee testing guidelines, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org