Many Employers Avoid Covid Tests Over Cost, Not Availability

Many Employers Avoid Covid Tests Over Cost, Not Availability

P.C.R. tests, which are generally considered the most accurate but typically require laboratory processing, cost roughly $100 in the United States. Medicare typically covers Covid tests, but many private insurance plans do not.A spokeswoman for One Medical said the average turnaround time for the tests was two to three days in most markets. “We anticipate an increase in testing demand around the holidays, and have increased our testing capacity accordingly,” the spokeswoman added.The survey found that companies with 25 workers or fewer were least likely to test, with only 8 percent doing so. About 40 percent of companies with 1,001 to 5,000 workers were testing, as were nearly 60 percent of companies with over 5,000 workers.Among the biggest companies that didn’t test, cost was not a commonly cited obstacle. Those companies were much more likely to be discouraged by the complexity of testing their large work forces, which one-third cited.The Coronavirus Outbreak ›Words to Know About TestingConfused by the terms about coronavirus testing? Let us help:Antibody: A protein produced by the immune system that can recognize and attach precisely to specific kinds of viruses, bacteria, or other invaders.Antibody test/serology test: A test that detects antibodies specific to the coronavirus. Antibodies begin to appear in the blood about a week after the coronavirus has infected the body. Because antibodies take so long to develop, an antibody test can’t reliably diagnose an ongoing infection. But it can identify people who have been exposed to the coronavirus in the past.Antigen test: This test detects bits of coronavirus proteins called antigens. Antigen tests are fast, taking as little as five minutes, but are less accurate than tests that detect genetic material from the virus.Coronavirus: Any virus that belongs to the Orthocoronavirinae family of viruses. The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is known as SARS-CoV-2. Covid-19: The disease caused by the new coronavirus. The name is short for coronavirus disease 2019.Isolation and quarantine: Isolation is the separation of people who know they are sick with a contagious disease from those who are not sick. Quarantine refers to restricting the movement of people who have been exposed to a virus.Nasopharyngeal swab: A long, flexible stick, tipped with a soft swab, that is inserted deep into the nose to get samples from the space where the nasal cavity meets the throat. Samples for coronavirus tests can also be collected with swabs that do not go as deep into the nose — sometimes called nasal swabs — or oral or throat swabs.Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): Scientists use PCR to make millions of copies of genetic material in a sample. Tests that use PCR enable researchers to detect the coronavirus even when it is scarce.Viral load: The amount of virus in a person’s body. In people infected by the coronavirus, the viral load may peak before they start to show symptoms, if symptoms appear at all.Biotechnology and technology companies were among the most likely to test workers, with 37 percent and 29 percent doing so, even as they were also among the most likely to require employees to work remotely.Manufacturing was also among the industries where testing was relatively common, with 20 percent of the facilities saying they did so. By contrast, only 10 percent of professional services firms, like accounting and law practices, said they were testing. And sectors in which rank-and-file workers tend to be poorly paid and can’t work from home, such as restaurants and hotels and casinos, had even lower rates.Zack Cooper, an economist at the Yale School of Public Health who has advised the Rockefeller Foundation, said he had some concern that a survey of this kind could be biased, because companies that did not respond might differ from companies that did so. But he said that in general he was not surprised by the results, and that the survey highlighted the federal government’s failure to recognize the widespread benefits of testing and to subsidize it accordingly. Mr. Cooper had no role in the survey.

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