[UPDATED] COVID-19: Screening and Testing Best Practices
This blog was originally published 12/02/2020 and updated 12/03/2021. The COVID-19 guidelines in this article are reflective of the time of publishing. To stay up to date with the latest CDC guidelines, visit the official COVID-19 site.
Navigating the constantly changing waters of a global health crisis has been a challenge for many organizations and if you’re struggling, you’re not alone. This is still unclear territory for many.
From executing daily screenings for essential workers to facilitating vaccination events, at Premise Health we’ve learned that planning ahead is instrumental if you want to keep your business open and get back to normal operating procedures safely.
Here’s the bottom line: you want your people to come back to the workplace healthy and you want them to stay well when they get there. So, how can you accommodate their return today and the unforeseeable tomorrow?
Vaccines: The Best Defense
As new variants and wave after wave of infections continue to plague the nation, one thing is clear: vaccination is the most effective way to protect people from serious illness, hospitalization, or death due to COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. are safe and they work, with over four billion doses having been administered worldwide.
The best way to protect your workforce and reduce the need for regular screening and testing is to encourage all eligible employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Holding vaccination events at your workplace is a great way to remove barriers and make vaccination easy and accessible for your members. Many workplaces are also implementing a vaccine mandate for their workforce to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
An organization’s number one priority is to make sure everyone is safe when entering the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends the following to help decrease the spread and impact of COVID-19 in the workplace:
- Encourage all eligible employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.
- Require the use of cloth face masks in situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain. See the CDC resource for more information on mask wearing. The CDC also recommends that employers coordinate with their local and state health officials to ensure they have the most timely and accurate information to guide prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals in the workplace.
- Promote frequent and thorough hand washing or use of alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Encourage workers to stay home if they’re feeling sick.
- Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
- Practice social distancing by maintaining approximately six feet from others.
- Consider video or teleconferencing to minimize face-to-face interactions.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning and disinfection.
- Increase airflow to occupied spaces when possible.
- Decrease occupancy in conference rooms or areas where it is difficult to social distance.
- Educate employees on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
As healthcare providers carry out virtual or in-person screening and testing, ensure they have appropriate PPE like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and eye protection. Next, you’ll want to make sure logistics like building entry, parking and screening patterns are properly controlled to further ensure both provider and employee safety.
Screening and Testing Best Practices
There are three types of COVID-19 testing currently available, each with its own intended use case. The right type of test to use depends on many factors like the context of testing, the population being tested, test supply, need for rapid results, and cost. It’s important to note that being fully vaccinated should not affect the results of viral testing for COVID-19. For the most up-to-date information on testing, please visit the CDC website.
Screening testing is used to identify unknown cases of COVID-19 when individuals are asymptomatic. This is recommended for unvaccinated individuals who do not have a known exposure to COVID-19. Screening testing helps identify asymptomatic cases so that further transmission can be prevented.
Examples of screening testing use cases include regular testing of employees in the workplace, testing students, faculty, and staff in a school setting, or testing individuals before or after travel.
Diagnostic testing is used to identify current COVID-19 infections. It is recommended for individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms regardless of vaccination status.
Use cases for diagnostic testing include testing people exhibiting symptoms, testing people who have been exposed to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, and contact tracing efforts.
Surveillance testing is not linked to a specific person and is used to monitor a community or population for an outbreak or prevalence of disease. This can be done through testing a portion of the population as a sample. An example of surveillance testing is wastewater testing.
Reassurance That Comes with a Plan
During these challenging times, having a plan is crucial as you navigate the immediate and future needs of your workforce and their families. Even more important is having a trusted partner who can guide you through the process.
Premise Health is committed to protecting and promoting the health and safety of team members, members, and their families. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, our teams can play a critical role in reinforcing the country’s healthcare infrastructure. By delivering care through a virtual first approach at our health centers and pharmacies, we can alleviate the burden on community resources and provide continued access to high-quality healthcare. And by delivering vaccinations, mass screenings, and diagnostic testing, we can facilitate a quicker, safer return to normal for businesses and workers, leading to a faster, more sustainable health and economic recovery.
From pandemic preparation and screening to vaccination efforts and return to the workplace, we can help your organization strategically navigate this unprecedented and challenging time.
- If you are a Premise Health member with questions, call your health center.
- If you are a Premise Health client with questions, please contact your director of client operations.
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