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Covid testing will be game changer & necessary for all employers

NAREIM Online Roundtable 

Risk Mitigation on Reopening: Covid Testing and Essential Team Dynamics and Safe Workplace - June 3, 2020

Covid testing will be the “game-changer” in returning teams back to the office successfully and rebuilding team connections – and NAREIM members need to seriously consider viral and antibody tests in their Covid-mitigation strategies.

During an online roundtable discussion with Tim Rowe, CEO of the science-focused shared office provider, Cambridge Innovation Center, members were urged to adopt a “Swiss cheese model” approach to reducing risk of exposure in the office, comprising face coverings, safe distancing, symptom checking, tracing and testing.

  • Quick wins to battle Covid: Easy protocols include face coverings, daily symptom checking with employees, signage and touchless tools – such as key fobs and nanoseptic covers that prevent the touching of elevator buttons or disinfect after touching, step and pull fixtures for doors allowing entryways to be opened by foot, elbow pulls for doors including fridge doors. Check out CIC’s live safety plan on returning to the office here.

What about Covid testing?

Viral testing, which tests for an active infection of Covid, is currently expensive and uncomfortable to undertake. Current at-home viral tests are around $150 per test. Prices will rapidly decline, with quick, easier tests ranging from $25 to $50 per test coming to market in the next week to month. CIC will be testing employees and its occupiers two to three times per week and intend the tests to increase the probability of catching someone infectious with the disease, but potentially not showing symptoms. Viral tests can detect positive infections two to three days after exposure. People are most infectious around Day 5.7, according to Rowe.

Antibody testing, tests for the presence of a past Covid infection and the presence of antibodies, which typically appear between six to nine days after infection. There is a growing hypothesis that antibodies relate to “practical immunity”, allowing people to return to work more easily.

  • What are the real risks of exposure in the workplace? For people aged 44 or less, you were more likely to die from the flu last year than from Covid this year. The science around the transmission of Covid has increased over the past two months. The CDC positive transmission requires on average 15-minutes of exposure with a non-mask wearing infected person. The risk of transmission via surfaces and air is now significantly reduced.

What about the liability risks? Keep it down the fairway, said Ronny Shoss, partner at Mayer Brown. Keep on top of and follow all the guidelines from federal, state and local public health authorities.

Check out the CIC presentation on Covid testing and read the edited transcript of the conversation in the NAREIM website.

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