Oct 19, 2021 - COVID

Ask Axios: Who pays for Polk County employees' COVID tests?

A coronavirus cell with question marks surrounding it over a blue background.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Question: "Who is paying for the weekly testing for Polk County employees who refuse the vaccine?" — Denise Donald, DSM

Answer: The county has designated federal COVID-19 funding toward paying the testing tab.

  • It's estimated to cost roughly $2,031 a week, or about $6.25 a test, Jon Cahill, a spokesperson for the Polk County Board of Supervisors, told Axios.
  • Employees were initially directed to sites that offered free testing but that was too disruptive to some employees' schedules, he said.

By the numbers: Just over 67% (1,049) of all 1,562 county employees — including on-call and temporary workers — have provided proof of vaccination.

  • At least one employee is refusing to test or show proof of vaccination, and a few others have missed tests. Progressive discipline policies are in place that could result in their terminations, Cahill said.

The big picture: Polk County's policy was rolled out ahead of a federal mandate that's expected to begin in coming weeks after enforcement rules are sorted.

  • President Biden announced last month that employers with more than 100 workers must require proof of vaccine or weekly testing.

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