WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
Air Force Materiel Command expanded its COVID-19 surveillance testing in January 2021, extending the voluntary testing to civilian personnel at four AFMC installations.
This expansion of surveillance testing includes civilian employee populations at four AFMC bases: Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.; Eglin AFB, Fla.; Hanscom AFB, Mass.; and Hill AFB, Utah. This expansion of testing at AFMC installations supplements testing of active-duty members that began in October 2020. As with previous testing in active-duty populations, civilians’ participation in this effort is voluntary.
The testing effort is part of a larger Department of the Air Force sentinel surveillance strategy to randomly test Air and Space Force military and civilian personnel to identify and contain pockets of the coronavirus. The goal is to test people without symptoms for COVID-19 to determine if additional public health actions are needed in work areas. Ultimately, the Air Force wants to ensure Airmen and the Air Force community remain healthy and able to fly, fight and win in air, space, and cyberspace.
Civilian personnel will be selected for participation at random, based on Air Force guidance of up to 10 percent of medical personnel and locally designated higher risk/key positions, and no less than 1 percent of the remaining installation workforce tested every 14 days. Local installation civilian personnel offices will work in conjunction with the local Military Treatment Facilities to decide best practices for each location’s selection of employees and testing procedures.
As noted above, participation in this testing effort is voluntary, and a selected civilian employee may decline to take part. Any selected personnel with a positive confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 90 days will not be tested.
These four installations will use the oral fluid coronavirus test provided by Curative, Inc., with whom the Air Force signed an agreement in 2020 to deploy and scale an oral fluid coronavirus test that received a Food and Drug Administration emergency-use authorization. The test collects saliva with a cotton swab and examines it for the COVID-19 virus.
Four to six individual samples will be grouped together, also called aggregated testing. The aggregated sample will receive an identification number and then be tested for the presence of the COVID-19 virus. If an aggregated sample result is negative, no notifications will be made. If a result is positive, medical personnel will notify the commander(s) of individuals in that positive aggregated sample, so the commanders can advise those individuals to seek further medical evaluation to determine whether or not they have the COVID-19 virus. No aggregated test result will be entered into any medical record.
Additionally, the local Public Health Office can provide tailored guidance to units regarding public health precautionary measures such as maintaining six feet of distance from others, wearing a cloth face mask, frequently washing hands, and avoiding large gatherings. Continuing to practice these precautionary measures can help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
More information for civilian employees affected by the surveillance testing can be found in the AFMC COVID-19 Civilian Surveillance Testing FAQ or via personnel’s local MTF.