What The COVID-19 Self-Test Kit Means for Employers & Employees

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On November 17, 2020, the FDA issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first self-test kit for COVID-19 that can provide rapid results at home with 94%-98% accuracy.

While Lucira’s single-use test is currently only available at Sutter Health in Northern California and the Cleveland Clinic in South Florida, it is expected to be available nationwide in early 2021. The test kit – estimated to cost around $50 – will require a prescription and all results must be reported to health authorities. Individuals over the age of 14 who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be able to self-administer the test and get results at home within 30 minutes. The test is also authorized for use in doctor’s offices, hospitals, urgent care centers and emergency departments for patients of all ages.  

Will this test be the answer to ensuring the safety of employees returning to work?

There is no doubt that this EUA-approved test is an important advancement to address the ongoing pandemic and could be a helpful tool to get life back to more normalcy.  But, as with any test, it should not be viewed as the sole gatekeeper to determining if employees can come to work. This newly-approved rapid test, like all COVID-19 tests, provides results at a single point in time. To ensure ongoing negative results, the test would require regular, if not daily, repeating.  As a single-use test kit, the cost alone maybe be a deterrent for employers.  

Absent a dramatic change in the availability and cost of rapid tests, the answers to ensuring employees are safe at work are the same as they have been for months:  Wear a Mask – Wash Your Hands – Maintain Social Distancing.