With 86% of people with the Coronavirus walking around undetected as reported by study in the Journal Science based on the experience in China, the policy of testing only the sick must yield to a more accurate testing program. This can be a huge problem in the United States given we have an abundance of safety sensitive workers in many jobs who could spread the disease during this pandemic. A proper model would be random testing, which created our drug testing industry thirty three years ago, and has been the gold standard and effective for all its 33 years that it has applied to safety sensitive workers.
As cities and towns are closing down dining in restaurants, allowing for take- out food, assessing risk with “safety sensitive” food preparation workers and others is vital. Until they experience symptoms, an hourly worker won’t even be qualified to obtain a test under current guidelines. The incentive for the food service worker is not to be tested as the worker cannot “telecommute” and the impact on their incomes are disproportionately large.
The current Covid-19 testing in the US is analogous to some voluntary “for cause”, “reasonable suspicion”, and some “post-incident” testing. The US does not do the equivalent of “pre-employment” testing by testing those entering the country. But none of those are sampling methodologies are as effective as the real means of testing true risk in any form. Random testing does.
And as its fitness instructors, airline flight attendants, and even politicians themselves who are likely to spread the disease widely, are speeding up the transmission rate and potentially peaking the bubble of cases higher than the health care system will allow for, action is warranted.
The current US response is just as wrong as the politicians and business people who ignored the fact of the spreading disease, despite the facts being well outlined in mid-February by mainstream epidemiologists, and the actual record of other countries in real time. Most Americans went about their business as if they were genetically different or immune from that which was experienced by citizens of China or Italy. See the charts and articles here. This must stop.
- by Jeffrey C. Smith, editor at ThinkingRational.Blog and Managing Director and Founder, Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Assn (DATIA) at Datia.org.
Also see on Key links, Wall Street Journal article with separate points promoting random testing for Covid-19