The Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with other organizations to offer rapid testing to help keep businesses, employees and customers safe.
With the support of the Ridgetown, Tilbury, Wallaceburg and Ontario chambers, and in partnership with the federal and provincial governments, the Chatham-Kent chamber is launching the COVID-19 screening initiative. The initiative will roll out free tests for small and medium-sized businesses in the municipality.
Gail Hundt, president and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce, said public health and economic health are “interdependent” with each other.
“This is why our chamber is proud to distribute rapid tests to businesses in Chatham-Kent,” said Hundt. “We are extremely pleased to be working with our fellow chambers as we all hope, through this program, we will be able to curb the spread of the virus and reopen our local economy safely while in a timely fashion.”
The initiative will provide free rapid antigen tests for businesses in Chatham-Kent, including non-chamber members, with 150 employees or fewer, with the goal of identifying asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace and limiting potential spread.
According to the report, all are being welcomed and encouraged to participate in this initiative. This program aims to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace that may otherwise be missed, leading to the assistance in curbing the spread within the workplace, at home and around the community.
“This sounds like a good initiative being headed up by the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce,” said Charlie Mitton, Ridgetown Chamber of Commerce President. “Making rapid COVID testing available to businesses in Chatham-Kent is another good step for workplace safety and confidence that can help us move forward and fully reopen.”
The concept of rapid COVID-19 tests is “interesting,” according to Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, David Colby. He said the rapid tests are not as accurate as of the standard tests.
“The important thing now is emphasizing vaccination,” said Colby. “If you look at the reopening plan for Ontario, the criteria for getting into the first through third stage are entirely dependent on vaccination. I think testing will take a backseat to vaccination as we move forward.”
The Chamber said staff members should be screened twice weekly. Orders will be coordinated to provide a two-week supply to the workplace. The pickup dates available will be on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. until further notice.
Participants will not be required to provide any government or public health reporting. Instead, businesses will report through the chamber portal on the number of tests they have completed that week.
Any employees with positive or inconclusive results must leave the workplace and arrange for a PCR test at a local testing facility. The employees must then self-isolate until they have received a negative test result.
Small and medium-sized businesses are encouraged to visit www.chatham-kentchamber.ca to book their appointments, sign their agreements, watch the training video and complete their reporting.
Screening kits can be scheduled on the website for pickup at Fantastic Greetings, located at 920 Richmond St. in Chatham, by appointment only.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News