Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

White House Directs $1.6 Billion to Covid Testing Funds

Facing a skyrocketing Covid-19 surge, the Biden Administration has announced new funding for testing in high-risk settings such as prisons, homeless shelters, and domestic violence shelters. This funding comes after a significant boost in funding for small rural hospitals was announced last week. The White House testing coordinator, Carole Johnson, emphasized testing as a “key pillar of our response” to the surge in cases, with vaccination hesitancy amongst adults and vaccine ineligibility for anyone under twelve. Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said, “We’re moving into a spot in which we had been at the beginning of the pandemic, where you need adequate testing.”

Telemedicine Use Begins to Decline Amongst Americans

Market share of telemedicine versus in-person doctor visits is beginning to shrink, according to some health record companies. Epic reported that telemedicine dropped off from its early-pandemic high last year, falling from 69% to 21% of doctor visits between April and July 2020. Provider HCA Healthcare has been seeing rising volume—and corresponding profits—throughout the year. Their CEO tells Axios that they’re not concerned about the Delta variant of Covid-19 suppressing patient visits the way the initial spread of Covid-19 did in early 2020.

Some Companies React to Delta Covid-19 Surge with Mandatory Vaccinations, Change in Office Openings

The New York Times reports that the surge in new Covid-19 cases has caused some large companies to rethink their office reopenings. Google employees in California who were allowed to return to the office voluntarily are now required to wear masks indoors, and Apple has pushed back their return-to-office date by a month, from September to October. Some hospital systems are making vaccinations mandatory. As court decisions in various federal cases have ruled that employers have the right to require vaccinations, more companies, including universities, are mulling the decision, or moving forward with the requirement.

The new questions about office safety amidst a resurgence of Covid-19 come as some employees push back at being forced back to the office. Apple employees called for a one-year pilot program measuring their productivity after the company doubled down on a required three-day office attendance plan. The proposal included the results of an informal survey, stating about 2/3 of employees would question their future at Apple if required to return to the office. Read more at The New York Times.

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