An organization should be strategic about COVID testing and have a proper plan for what to do and follow positive results. Testing is most required in areas where there is possible substantial community transmission of COVID-19 and workspaces where employees work in close contact with each other or in public.
Four Testing Checklist
There are four particular situations where testing is appropriate:
- Testing employees who show symptoms:If an employee has a fever during a regular temperature check, they should be isolated immediately and tested. Any employee who has been in close contact with that person should also be isolated and tested.
- Testing employees who have been exposed to COVID virus: If an employee is exposed to a positive COVID-19 case, they should be quarantined immediately and tested for the virus. The testing process should be done many days after exposure as the virus isn’t detected immediately. The employee should be in quarantine until the results come out.
- Testing employees of each shift: The organization should take a mass testing approach in areas where there is a high transmission, and the employees work in close contact.
- Testing once-infected employees before returning to the workplace: An organization can choose to get recovered employees tested once more before returning to work. However, tests may continue to find any traces of the virus even after the person has fully recovered. This should be a time-based approach like 14 days from exposure, over a testing requirement.
In the first months of the COVID pandemic, many organizations vouched for widespread testing for the virus, including Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos. He stated that it is the safest way to get the employees back in the workplace. “If every person, also the ones who are asymptomatic, be tested regularly, it will have a positive response to our fight against COVID-19 virus. Employees whose test results come our positive can be quarantined. The ones whose results are negative can join the workplace,” Bezos stated earlier that Amazon announced building its testing labs. Amazon is also moving forward with a pilot lab to test its warehouse employees.
A survey conducted by global business consultancy Mercer found only 3% of employers were ready to test for the virus. “It would be highly efficient to test screen employees on a large scale efficiently, but until then, they can take the mini fast COVID test at home. However, this test is not fit for a large count,” stated David Zieg, the Denver-based clinical services leader at Mercer. Zieg also said that strategic testing is much more responsive to the pandemic organization, though social distancing, hand hygiene, sanitation, and contact tracing are still necessary.
“Presently, organizations should focus on symptomatic and quarantined individuals primarily,” he stated. Right now, the most crucial thing is to prepare and plan a strategy and get useful and reliable testing in hand.