By Mike Baker
The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce is offering free COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits to small and medium-sized businesses across the county.
In partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and both the provincial and federal governments, the Haliburton chamber has launched the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative. Through the initiative, the local chamber will make kits available to any member business that has less than 150 employees.
The goal of the program is to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace that might otherwise be missed, helping to curb the spread of the virus in the workplace, at home and around the community.
“Chambers of commerce and boards of trade have been indispensable resources in their communities since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Public health and health of our economy are interdependent. That is why our chamber is proud to distribute rapid tests to any small and medium businesses in Haliburton County,” said Andrea Strano, president of the Haliburton chamber. “We hope that through this program, we will be able to curb the spread and reopen our local economy safely.”
The initiative was piloted in the Waterloo region earlier this year, where nearly 120,000 kits were delivered to around 1,400 businesses. Through that pilot, up to 30,000 employees in essential workplaces in Waterloo have been receiving regular screening twice per week.
The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative builds upon the success of that pilot project, delivering tests into the hands of small and medium-sized businesses across the province.
“Rapid testing is one of the key ways to keep workforces as safe as possible during the pandemic as we wait for vaccinations to roll out,” said Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
Those interested in participating in the program can order kits in two-week supplies at www.haliburtonchamber.com/rapidscreening.
The kits will be ready for pick-up at the local chamber office at 195 Highland Street by appointment. A designate from each business will be required to complete video training to ensure they’re clued up on how to properly supervise the screening process and safely dispose of the used kits. Businesses will be required to electronically submit their screening results after each test is completed. The data will then be reported to the Ministry of Health.
If a test results in a preliminary positive for COVID-19, the employee will be required to leave the workplace, arrange for a PCR test within 24-hours at an approved COVID-19 assessment site and self-isolate until a confirmatory test result is received.