COVID-19 FACTS
Your COVID-19 Testing answers and updates

YOUR TESTING EXPERTS: WSS is committed to providing the knowledge your team needs to create a safer workplace.

COVID-19 updates

We know business owners are faced with unprecedented challenges from COVID-19 and the CARES Act. We're here to support you with services that implement the latest guidelines, testing, and recommendations.

Bookmark these pages—the CDC updates them regularly.

For any questions concerning travel:

All research indicates that if you follow recommended safety guidelines, you can keep employees safe without compromising productivity.

Federal COVID-19 Guidelines & Mandates

Updated: November 8, 2021

Mandates:

November 4, 2021-

  • All Employers with 100 or more employees must require that all employees be vaccinated or receive a weekly COVID-19 test. 
    • Companies are required to provide paid time off for employees to recieve the vaccine and recover from any symptoms
    • Companies not required, by OSHA, to pay for COVID-19 Tests for unvaccinated employees.
Businesses not complying by January 4, 2022 can be fined up to a $14,000 per employee.



  • September 9, 2021-
    -Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination for all Federal Employees

    -Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations for all contractors that do business with the federal government

    -Mandatory vaccinations in Head Start Programs and schools run by the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Indian Education

    -Mandatory vaccinations in all healthcare facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, including hospitals and home health agencies

    -Mandatory vaccinations for individuals applying to become US Citizens 

Recommendations:

  • get  the COVID-19 & flu vaccines
  • wear a mask 
    • unvaccinated and vaccinated, with weakened immune systems- wear a mask when you are in indoor public spaces
    • vaccinated-wear a mask indoors in public areas of substantial and high transmission
  • Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same.
  • If no soap and water are available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs, and other places touched frequently.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practice social distancing. This includes avoiding crowds and minimizing physical
    contact.
Texas State COVID-19 Guidelines & Mandates

Updated: October 15, 2021

Recommendations:

  • Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same.
  • If no soap and water are available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs, and other places touched frequently.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practice social distancing. This includes avoiding crowds and minimizing physical
    contact.
  • get vaccinated

 

Mandates:

  • Oct 11, 2021
    no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination by any individual, including an employee or consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19
 
  • March 10
    Mandatory Mask order, rescinded 
Houston COVID-19 Guidelines & Mandates

Updated: October 15, 2021

Recommendations:

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine and your annual flu shot
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth around others that do not live in your home
  • Avoid crowds and large gatherings
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects at home and work
  • Stay 6 ft (2m) apart from others that do not live in your home

Mandates:

  • September 8, 2021-
    Mandatory bi-monthly testing for all unvaccinated city employees, including HPD, HFD, and other city departments
Are there still restrictions on Foreign Travelers entering the U.S.?

As of November 8, 2021 all US travel restrictions for Fully Vaccinated foreign travelers, are lifted.

Foreign nationals (not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents):

  • Will need to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a vaccine approved by the World Heath Organization (WHO) or U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of departure
  • Will need to provide basic contact tracing information, allowing public health officials to follow up with travelers who are potentially infected or may have been exposed to someone who is infected
  • Foreign nationals who are not fully vaccinated may only be allowed entry into the U.S. if they are subject to an exception from the vaccination requirement. In addition, they will need to test negative for COVID-19 within one day of their departure for the U.S, and arrange to be tested 3-5 days after arrival and self-quarantine or self-isolate, depending on the post-arrival test results.
  • Passengers under the age of 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement and will be allowed to enter the United States with a negative COVID-19 test.
  • Foreign nationals intending to remain in the United States for longer than 60 days will need to commit to becoming fully vaccinated.

 U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents:

  • (If fully vaccinated) Will need to show proof of full vaccination as approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure
  • (If not fully vaccinated) Will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one day before departure

All people entering, regardless of vaccination status, will need to provide basic contact tracing information and confirm the information is true.

Are the COVID-19 Vaccines Safe?

Though the COVID-19 vaccines were developed rapidly, all steps were taken to make sure they are safe and effective.

  1. Scientists have been working to develop vaccines to fight similar viruses for many years
  2. In the US, all vaccines go through three phases of clinical trials to ensure they are safe and effective.  The COVID-19 vaccines were approved for use faster because they overlapped the three phases to speed up access to the public
  3. Before any vaccine is made availiable in the US, the FDA assesses the findings of all clinical trials.
  4. The US government used substantial resources to get the vaccine manufactured and distributed as soon as the FDA authorized their use.
  5. The COVID-19 vaccine safety monitoring had been the most thorough and comprehensive in US history,  allowing the CDC and FDA to continuously update information on the  safety of these vaccines.
  6. Hundreds of millions of Americans have received one of the COVID-19 vaccines, allowing the Scientific and medical community to verify the safety and efficacy of the three authorised vaccines
COVID-19 Vaccines for Children

Updated: November 3, 2021

 

On October 19, 2021, the FDA issued an EUA (emergency use authorization to allow for the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in individuals age 5 to 11 years old.  On November 2, 2021 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously recommended that children ages 5-11 be vaccinated against COVID-19, with the Pfizer vaccine.

Is it the Same as the Adult Vaccine?

No - Pfizer's pediatric vaccine is a different product than the vaccine used for adolescents and adults.

 

Why should I get a COVID-19 Booster shot?

Updated: October 24, 2021

If you are fully vaccinated you should still have strong protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19, but immunity against infection can wane over time: this is why we have to get a flu shot every year.  Because the Delta Variant is more virulent, the CDC wants to make sure immunocompromised people have the strongest protection possible

U.S. health authorities want to ensure people with higher risks have the strongest protection possible protection in at-risk people who were vaccinated months ago — although the priority remains getting the unvaccinated their first shots.

Can I get a Booster Shot?

Updated: November 19, 2021

On November 19, the Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 booster for all adults 18  years or older, at least 6 months after they received their initial shots, with the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-A9 vaccines.    It now must be approved by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory committee, before going being implemented.

 

Pfizer-BioNTech: 

  • 65 years and older:
    Recommended -  people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings
    (at least 6 months after first series of doses)

  • 50–64 years old:
    Recommended -  people 50–64 years old with underlying medical conditions  
    (at least 6 months after first series of doses)

  • 18–49 years old:
    (conditionally recommended) -  people 18–49 years old with underlying medical conditions - based on their individual benefits and risks.
    (at least 6 months after first series of doses)

  • 18-64 years old:
    (conditionally recommended) - people 18-64 years old who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting - based on their individual benefits and risks.
    (at least 6 months after first series of doses)

 

Moderna:

  • 65 years and older: Recommended -  people 65 years and older or residents in long-term care settings,
    (at least 6 months after first series of doses)
  • 18 years and older:
    (conditionally recommended) - people 18-years or older who are immunocompromised or are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting - based on their individual benefits and risks.
    (at least 6 months after first series of doses)

 

J&J/Janssen:

  • 18 and older:
    Recommended -  all people 18 and older regardless of age or other factors
    (at least 2 months after first series of doses)
Is it safe to mix Vaccines?

Updated: October 24, 2021

If your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if from Pfizer or Moderna, you should receive your second dose using the same type of vaccine.

After you receive your two shots of Pfizer or Moderna, you may receive a booster of any approved vaccine after the suggested amount of time has passed.

(See "Can I get a Booster Shot?" for specifics to see if  and when you would be approved for a booster shot.)

Is it safe for a Pregnant Women to be vaccinated?
Updated: October 15, 2021
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  • COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.
  • Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.
  • There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.
  • Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people.
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.
 
On This Page
What should I do if I am asymptomatic?

Updated: October 14, 2021

 

  • The CDC states that after a minimum of 7 days have passed since you first tested positive, you may end isolation and quarantine, as long as you have remained  asymptomatic
  • The CDC recommends that after leaving isolation or quarantine,  asymptomatic individuals, continue social distancing and wearing a mask when around others, for at least 3 days

 

Employer Guidelines Concerning COVID-19?

Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with Federal, State, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regarding:

  • Social distancing and protective equipment
  • Temperature checks
  • Sanitation
  • Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
  • Business travel

Monitor workforce for indicative symptoms.

Employees who have symptoms or test positive, should immediately isolate  and should not return to work without a negative COVID test or being cleared by a medical advisor

Employees who are well but who have a sick household member with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow CDC-recommended precautions.

Employers are encouraged to implement flexible, non-punitive paid sick leave and supportive policies and practices as part of a comprehensive approach to prevent and reduce transmission among employees. Some employees may be eligible to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) external iconor the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Develop and implement policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following employee COVID+ test. Source 4.22.2020

Is the FMCSA waiver still in effect?

Updated: October 15, 2021

On June 5, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted a three-month waiver from certain pre-employment testing requirements applicable to employers of drivers subject to 49 CFR part 382. For more details, visit the FMCSA web page

  • FMCSA has extended  the emergency declaration until 11:59 P.M. November 30, 2021
What are the changes to the I-9 verification?

Updated: September 1, 2021

The following changes have been extended until December 31, 2021.

"Effective April 1, 2021, DHS is also providing the following update to its Form I-9 flexibilities guidance.

The flexibility announcement issued on March 20, 2020, notes that DHS will evaluate certain COVID-19-related Form I-9 completion practices on a case-by-case basis as they relate to the physical inspection of Form I-9 documentation. Accordingly, as of April 1, 2021, the requirement that employers inspect employees’ Form I-9 identity and employment eligibility documentation in-person applies only to those employees who physically report to work at a company location on any regular, consistent, or predictable basis."

More guidance from the DOT on COVID-19?
COVID vaccine facts & myths from the CDC

Questions about the vaccine? Visit the CDC's dedicated vaccine page

Proper employee education and training will result in refining the terms of the drug-free workplace policy and procedures while enforcing consequences for violation. Educated employees ultimately work toward success and cooperate as a team to efficiently and effectively manage a drug-free workplace. Once employees are educated about how to foster a drug-free workplace, they are more likely to boost morale while increasing productivity and help identify those coworkers in need of assistance.

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