Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers requires COVID-19 testing for state employees who aren't fully vaccinated or haven't reported vaccination status
MADISON - State employees who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who haven't submitted their vaccination status to Evers administration officials will be subjected to weekly testing, the Department of Administration announced Tuesday.
The new requirement was blasted by a Republican legislative leader who suggested he may seek legal action.
It's unclear how many of the state's 30,000 executive branch agency employees will be tested under the new requirement.
About 87% of the state workforce reported their vaccination status and of those, about 70% of the employees reported being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to an agency spokeswoman.
"As part of our efforts to manage the state workforce, we’re looking to every tool at our disposal to address the delta variant, including testing, wearing masks, and vaccination,” DOA Secretary Joel Brennan said in a statement. “State employees are critical partners in helping us protect the people of Wisconsin, and we look forward to the day when we can all put COVID-19 in the rear view mirror.”
COVID in Wisconsin: Track COVID-19 and the vaccine in Wisconsin
The new requirement is being implemented Oct. 18 and comes after Evers administration officials required employees to submit their vaccination status. About 87% released their status to human resources officials.
Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said the mandatory testing, and the employee requirement to submit vaccination status, were "constitutionally suspect and a flagrant invasion of medical privacy."
"The State Senate will explore all options within our authority to protect the rights of Wisconsinites and prevent further abuses by overreaching executives — be them from Governor Evers or President Biden," LeMahieu said, referring to workplace vaccine mandates ordered by Biden to push more Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The policy applies to state employees, contractors and interns within Wisconsin’s executive branch agencies "who are required, under any circumstances, to be physically present in a state facility."
The testing requirement does not apply to employees who work from home or do not have contact with the public as part of their duties, according to DOA employee guidance.
The testing requirement is being implemented as Wisconsin experiences a new surge of COVID-19 cases as the more transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 rips through the state where just about 3 million people, or 52% of the population, is vaccinated.
Department of Health Services data show vaccinated Wisconsinites have experienced much lower rates of hospitalizations and death than unvaccinated peers.
You can find out who your legislators are and how to contact them here.