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!

Some Employers Embrace Private COVID Testing

Could company-financed, home-COVID tests become a safety measure for employers and employees? As Americans grapple with return-to-work strategies despite rising numbers of coronavirus infections across the country, some companies are launching home test kits for COVID-19. They could be a stand-in for testing available through traditional and government healthcare outlets, which is becoming backlogged. In many places, waits for test results can be longer than a week.

Employee Benefit News reports that Everlywell, a home-test manufacturer, is partnering with Appian, a software company, to provide home-testing solutions for employers. Employees can request a home-testing kit by filling out an online screening questionnaire, which is then reviewed by a telehealth partner. Everlywell says test results will be returned 24-48 hours after the sample is received by the lab. The Appian platform will also help employers streamline health screenings, contact tracing, and other return-to-work measures.

Increasing Numbers of Employees Report Mental Health Issues

A poll by Lyra Health and the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions found 83% of respondents were experiencing mental health problems. The respondents citied the pandemic and racial justice issues as the causes. When asked if their employers cared about their mental health, 40% of respondents said no. The survey found that employees who do not believe their employers care about their mental health are nearly two times as likely to consider leaving the company for another job.

Other findings hinted at a possibility of severe mental health problems on the uptick. Lyra Health’s platform has seen an increase of 33% of users reporting thoughts of self-harm or suicide since early 2020. Clinical director of partnerships Joe Grasso, Ph.D., told Fierce Healthcare that mental health support in the workplace starts with recognizing outside stress doesn’t go away when an employee comes to work.

Vaccine Investment Ramps Up

The AP reports that the US government has agreed to pay up to $2.1 billion to GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for the supply of 100 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. The investment includes clinical trials, manufacturing, scale-up, and delivery of the vaccine. Alex Azar, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, says building a “portfolio of vaccines” will increase the likelihood of “at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of the year.”