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Suffolk, other cities to begin weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated staff

City managers in several Hampton Roads cities, including Suffolk, will begin testing city employees weekly for COVID-19 if they have not been vaccinated.

City managers from Suffolk, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Williamsburg said in a joint statement that they expect the policy to be put in place by Oct. 1.

“We are at a critical point in the fight against the coronavirus,” the city managers said. “The Delta variant is causing the number of COVID cases in the Hampton Roads region and across the nation to spike. As a community, we have the obligation to take additional steps to curtail the spread and, most importantly, save lives.”

They said the measure will help in their ability to keep employees and their families healthier, maintain their ability to serve their respective residents and reduce the community spread of COVID-19.

“Announcing this measure now allows those employees who opt to become fully vaccinated to do so before the testing is implemented,” the city managers said. “By working together as a region, we can make more progress in slowing the spread of this disease than any one of us can as an individual locality.”

The message from the city managers noted that more than 98% of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the Eastern Region are from those who are not fully vaccinated, with so-called breakthrough cases accounting for less than 1% of the region’s COVID-19 cases.

Testing procedures and program details will vary in each locality.