July 16, 2020

CDC Releases Guidance on SARS-CoV-2 Testing for Non-Healthcare Workplaces

On July 3, CDC published a document providing guidance on the appropriate use of SARS-CoV-2 testing in non-healthcare workplaces. The new guidance is intended to assist employers with incorporating testing for SARS-CoV-2 into a pandemic preparedness, response, and control plan. CDC encourages employers to communicate with state, territorial, local, and tribal health officials to determine which strategies are the most appropriate and how to implement them. The guidance is intended to supplement, not replace, existing laws, rules, and regulations with which employers must comply.

According to CDC, SARS-CoV-2 testing can be used as a part of a comprehensive plan to reduce transmission in non-healthcare workplaces. Along with symptom screening and contact tracing, testing is a tool to identify infected workers so that actions can be taken to prevent further spread of the virus. The guidance states that employees being tested should be informed of the test’s name, type, and manufacturer; its purpose, reliability, and limitations; how the test will be paid for; and how it will be performed. They should also understand what the results mean, what actions they should take, who will receive the results, and any consequences of declining testing.

Two kinds of tests for SARS-CoV-2 infection have been approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration: viral tests and antibody tests. The former detect current presence of the virus in respiratory samples and help officials identify and isolate currently infected people. Antibody tests detect past infection and should not be used alone to diagnose current infection.

CDC identifies separate testing strategies for five categories of people: those with signs or symptoms of COVID-19, those without symptoms but who have recent known or suspected exposure, those without both symptoms and known or suspected exposure, those who have been infected but are recovering, and populations under public health surveillance to detect trends and hotspots.

Read the full document, including the considerations for each category listed above, on the CDC website.