Looking for antibodies and high temperatures. Today’s EBI Screening News Update has details on newly available COVID-19 tests and temperature testing plans for employers.
Antibody Tests Now Available
Have you been wondering if that nasty bug you had a while back could have been the coronavirus? You are not alone. There are a lot of people wondering if they have already been exposed. The answer might be closer than you think.
Labs across the country are rolling out COVID-19 antibody tests, and many of them are available without a doctor’s order. Quest Diagnostics, for example, is allowing people to sign up online to be screened. The test costs $119 and requires blood to be drawn in a lab. The results come within a couple of days. Quest is doing the testing at more than 2,000 labs across the country. By early-May they hope to be up to 150,000 tests every day. LabCorp is also offering the testing through Walgreens stores. Soon, do-it-yourself finger stick kits will be available as well.
Not All They’re Cracked Up to Be?
While these tests are definitely welcome, they might not be the “get out of quarantine free” card that so many want. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and UC San Francisco have been studying the many versions of antibody tests that are being developed. More than 90 companies now have antibody tests on the market, many of which have not been reviewed by the FDA.
While researchers say many of the kits are good at detecting antibodies two weeks or more after infection, there is a significant false positive rate. That means a lot of folks could end up walking around with a false sense of security after getting their test results.
Another issue is the fact that scientists still don’t really know if having antibodies equals immunity when it comes to COVID-19.
Pros and Cons of Temperature Checks
Try to imagine walking into work this time last year, and having your employer ask to take your temperature before allowing you though the door. Just a few short weeks ago such a demand would have been met with shock, maybe anger, and possibly threats of a lawsuit for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or local employment laws.
But now, as we try to push through to the Post-COVID-19 era, workers might actually welcome the intrusion, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has relaxed regulations to make temperature checks legal. Some jurisdictions are even making them mandatory for employees in high-risk, essential positions.
Employers who want to institute temperature checks should start creating a written policy that carefully outlines the program. Then you must determine who is going to do the testing. The best – yet most expensive option – would be a medical professional. Since that is probably out of the budget for most companies, the recommendation is to put Human Resources in charge. HR is used to handling sensitive information and keeping private details private. Even though it is a whole new world, we are still dealing with medical information, so it is essential for employers to protect their staff’s privacy.
As with any other screening process, employers need to make sure temperature screens are implemented equally across the organization. Unless everyone is tested equally, you could end up facing accusations of discrimination.