Small business owners across the country are testing their workers to catch potential coronavirus outbreaks before they start, but with typically smaller financial reserves than large firms, many are grappling with the logistics, costs and privacy implications of testing workers, Wall Street Journal reports.
“There’s been a rubber band of stress around my head since March,” says Sara Polon, the owner of a plant-based soup company in Washington, D.C., who began testing workers three weeks ago.
It costs her $800 each week to test her 30 employees, and she’s been giving each staffer an extra $200 per pay period to not work elsewhere because she wants to keep them out of environments with less-stringent safety and cleaning protocols. She also coordinates carpools so that all workers stay off public transit.
While the federal government made funds available to small businesses through Paycheck Protection Program loans, most of those funds had to be used for specific purposes like payroll in order to be forgiven. That has meant testing and other safety precautions are an added financial burden at an already difficult time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t dictate whether and how frequently employers should test workers for the virus, but it has published considerations for critical businesses like food processors that implement testing strategies. The CDC says such testing should be implemented only if it leads to actions like quarantining sick people and taking a risk-based approach to testing those who may have been exposed.
The agency advises businesses of all sizes to conduct daily health checks, implement social distancing practices and encourage employees to wear face masks.
Some business owners in areas of the U.S. with few cases say the costs and complexity of testing workers make it unappealing. Advocates, though, say diagnostic tests, combined with other measures, can mitigate outbreaks and give workers comfort as they report to offices and factories. Read the full report.