A top Quest exec details the best strategies employers can use to curb coronavirus outbreaks as companies start to reopen

New York coronavirus subway

Companies are weighing strategies to return to the office after novel coronavirus outbreaks.
Without a clear roadmap, testing and healthcare groups are selling private testing programs.
Dr. Jay Wohlgemuth, the chief medical officer at Quest Diagnostics, outlined some of their goals.
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Companies large and small are weighing strategies to return to the office after the novel coronavirus forced broad swaths of the population to work remotely, or cost them their jobs.

As a result, testing and healthcare companies are selling private solutions to employers for how they can create post-pandemic office arrangements that won’t cause outbreaks. Coronavirus can spread easily in workplaces, particularly when many workers are in close quarters for an extended period of time.

Many companies will continue to have large numbers of employees working remotely for the foreseeable future, since productivity has remained high and the cost of testing programs is significant, according to Dr. Jay Wohlgemuth, the chief medical officer at lab-testing firm Quest Diagnostics. For those that want to bring people back to the office and prevent outbreaks, however, there are some general principles to consider, Wohlgemuth said.

For instance, companies in big cities should test their office workers for coronavirus before they come back to work, and consider testing them regularly. They should also think about using coronavirus antibody tests, which can determine if someone has had the virus in the past and therefore is less likely to spread it, according to Wohlgemuth.

Read more: Companies are racing to bring coronavirus antibody tests to market. Here are the top tests ranked by accuracy, and where you can find them.

Quest works with about 5,000 employers across the country to provide testing services, including for the coronavirus, and it’s hearing questions from nearly all of them about how they should approach their returns, Wohlgemuth told Business Insider in an interview.

There are different kinds of coronavirus tests

One type of coronavirus testing that Wohlgemuth recommends is kits that look for the virus itself, typically using nasal swabs. Employers can be as “aggressive” as they want with that method, called viral testing, like screening every employee once before they’re allowed back into the office, or on an ongoing basis, Wohlgemuth said.

“It really does need to be done to be sure when we go back we’re not just going back to then immediately shut down again,” he told Business Insider in an interview.

Antibody testing, on the other hand, could be used to determine which members of the workforce don’t need to be tested repeatedly, he said.

The body creates antibodies to fight off the virus after exposure. While the jury is still out on how much protection antibodies offer against future infection, Wohlgemuth said the data Quest is seeing suggests that antibody-positive individuals are unlikely to pass on live virus.

People with antibodies could return to work sooner

Workers found to have coronavirus antibodies should go through additional viral screening, too, just to make sure they’re not actively infected, according to …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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