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How Businesses Can Keep Employees Safe From Coronavirus

Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

By Scott Gottlieb and Lauren Silvis (original source The Wall Street Journal)

“America is getting back to business against a backdrop of persistent Covid-19 spread. The epidemic is under control, but not crushed. Essential to avoiding a second wave is widespread testing to detect and contain new infections.

The good news is that many states have enough tests available to offer them to all citizens, regardless of symptoms. With new testing technologies coming online, it is becoming easier to deploy the right test in the right setting to the right patient. Part of the strategy should be testing at work sites where employees face higher risks.

Employers have two approaches: trying to keep the virus from entering the workplace and, barring that, trying to contain spread. Fever checks or health questionnaires are only partially effective. Symptom monitoring is unlikely to detect more than about half of infections, and people may only develop symptoms days after being contagious.

What kind of tests should employers use? There is obvious appeal to rapid tests. But current platforms can yield false negatives in about 20% of cases. This may be suitable for a doctor’s office, where a doctor can run another type of test to confirm a negative result. It may not be feasible for screening a mostly asymptomatic population at a job site, where running a second test on negative results isn’t practical given that most tests are likely to be negative, and there may not be symptoms to prompt further suspicion.”

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