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Medical Test, Coronavirus

What Role Should Employers Play in Testing Workers?

Amazon and other companies are planning to test workers for the coronavirus. But there is little federal guidance, and some fear it could lead to a false sense of security.

5/24/2020 12:20:00 AM

Amazon and other companies are planning to test workers for the coronavirus. But there is little federal guidance, and some fear it could lead to a false sense of security.

Amazon and other companies are planning to test workers for the coronavirus. But there is little federal guidance, and some fear it could lead to a false sense of security.

This technique — which traces back to World War II, when soldiers were testeden masse for syphilis— would allow companies to see whether there is coronavirus circulating among workers. A positive result would lead to further individual testing within a group.

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“You can use one test to rule out a big group of people, and that makes it cost-effective,” said Natalie Dean, an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida.A health clinic in Germany is already using pooled testing to monitor workers, and a virology lab at Stanford University is exploring how to use the technique locally.

Some employees are clamoring for tests, believing it will keep them safe, but others are skeptical.In Atlanta, Morehouse School of Medicine decided to require periodic testing for its 1,100 employees, no matter if they work on the medical, marketing or administrative side of the operation. And all employees will be required to complete a test before returning to work.

Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, president and dean of the medical school, said she decided on that approach after getting feedback that many employees wanted mandatory testing. Some pointed out that staff members were required to be tested for tuberculosis, another infectious disease.

The frequency of testing will be determined along the way — maybe every two weeks, maybe every month, Dr. Rice said. Results will be sent to workers and the school’s employee health office. Last Friday, after running 500 tests, the first positive result came in. The employee, who did not have any symptoms, will be allowed to work remotely or take sick leave.

In Las Vegas,the culinary unionhad requested testing for the virus and antibodies as part of casinos’ plans to protect workers and guests. On Tuesday, gaming and resort operators, along with the union, announced plans for widespread testing. The local health authority, the Southern Nevada Health District, said it supported systematic testing of employees, especially those who have frequent contact with the public.

Some casino operators — Las Vegas Sands, Station Casinos and Wynn Resorts — have already begun testing. “It is to protect, first and foremost, employees,” said Ron Reese, a spokesman for Las Vegas Sands, who said that the practice was expected to continue and that staff could bring family members in for testing. “It sends a signal that we are doing all we can to assure people when they come to Las Vegas, that a company like ours is doing everything possible to make it the safest environment.”

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ImageBrian Shapiro, owner of Shapiro’s Delicatessen in Indianapolis, had about 25 employees tested this month.Credit...Luke Sharrett for The New York TimesAt Shapiro’s, the Indianapolis deli, the owner, Brian Shapiro, said some employees were apprehensive when he announced plans to test them before reopening the dining room. But soon, workers at the 115-year-old establishment — which has stayed up and running to provide carryout corned beef and pastrami sandwiches — realized how much they depended on one another to remain healthy. “They became more of a team,” said Mr. Shapiro, 61.

“I want to do the best I possibly can to keep myself, my employees, my customers — to keep them from getting sick.”Reporting was contributed by Michael Corkery, Sopan Deb, Benjamin Mueller, Katie Thomas, Karen Weise and James Wagner. Read more: The New York Times »

What good is testing when it takes 5 days to get the results? Or if you are negative at testing and catch the virus on the way out? First you are mad Amazon is not doing enough to protect workers, so they are starting testing and now you say it is not enough. Be honest, you want to stretch out this pandemic forever. Give us a break!

Does everything require 'federal guidance'? Dude, just get on with it. Ask the brain surgeon fauci who hasn't gotten 1 thing right In the case of a highly contagious illness with a significant morbidity and mortality associated with it, it is best to be guided by CDC and not be at the mercy of individual companies leadership. Health care workers should all be tested twice a week so we don’t transmit corona.

Got a fever? Take 2 aspirin & wait til temp goes down before you clock in. Take 2 more aspirin at lunch. Repeat all week or until your lungs collapse, whichever comes first... Yeah, you might take out some co-workers with you, but as a wise man once said, “Whaddya got to lose?” Why Now? It's only been been here since, Dec? Jan? Feb? Mar? April? Now May 23, Momma did say it's better late than never!, Momma if you we're here, you'd say, IT doesn't work here.

I’m living in fear of a lack of federal guidance 🙀🙀🙀 Could lead to a false sense of liberty and freedom! Should employers test for diabetes? Heart disease? Prevent workers from working if blood pressure is too high? Where are the employees’ right to privacy? Who receives test results? What is the most important thing? Testing, testing, testing. Then no one wants to do it. Figures.

Do companies need the government up their asses on every decision. 'Federal Guidance'? When will people understand that testing to see if someone is infected is a point in time procedure? All it tells you is that at the second you were not infected. It doesn't say that in an hour you won't become infected.

Why do they need federal guidance? They have brains and better functioning ones than our government, at that. I think they can figure it out on their own. If the government sets guidelines then they are taking responsibility. Which they are afraid to do🇺🇸 I work in a grocery store and NONE of us have been tested, even though a healthcare facility is RIGHT across the street!

Little Federal Guidance is the theme of 2020. Mandatory testing. Way of the future. Glad see the Federal doing their job unbelievable.. I hope amazon can deliver

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