With shelter in place orders beginning to lift, we have received hundreds of questions surrounding testing and screening options. Whether you are a company planning your return to work immediately, or just looking to keep your employees safe, we have answered the most common testing FAQs below.

What testing options are available for my employees?

There are two kinds of tests available for COVID-19: molecular (PCR) and serological testing (Antibody testing). In order to keep employees safe and at the least risk of exposure, most employers are utilizing the below options for their employees – away from the office. To learn more about onsite testing options, you can go to our Onsite Testing & Screening section.

1. Molecular Tests aka “PCR” (polymerise chain reaction) testing:

Best For: Employees experiencing symptoms and/or feel they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. This test has been around the longest and most widely used.

  • How does this test work?
    • Detects the presence of viral genetic materials in the sample. It tells you if you currently have COVID-19.
  • How is it administered:
    • The most common method is the Nasal Swab (unfortunately, it’s not comfortable). Typically involves a doctor inserting a long, six-inch swab into the back of the nasal passage, repeating to get both nostrils. That swab is put in a container sent to a lab for testing. There are some options at-home testing options that have recently come out that use a saliva sample.
  • Where and how do my employees get the PCR test? Do they need a doctor’s note to get tested?
    • Many clinics and doctor’s offices will require you to fill out a survey or intake about your symptoms or exposure to see if a PCR test is applicable right now. We’ve compiled an overview of your employees’ options below:
      • One Medical: Currently offering PCR testing for anyone with concerns about COVID-19. You can access the COVID-19 screening tool in the app and will be contacted to discuss your options. Find out where and how to get tested here.
      • Kaiser: Visit Kaiser’s site to select your region and find out more about COVID-19 and how to get care here. Those experiencing symptoms will be prompted to contact the 24/7 Appointment and Advice Call Center at 866-454-8855. If indicated to be at risk, your doctor will order the test. The test may be administered at one of Kaiser’s clinics or drive-thru testing locations.
      • Drive-Thru Testing: Many pharmacies, like CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens, are opening drive-thru testing clinics throughout the US. A list of pharmacies offering drive-thru testing can be found here. However, you might still need a doctor’s referral to get tested at these, so your first call should always be to your PCP to find out where to go. One Medical and Kaiser also offer drive-thru options in some locations.
      • At Home Tests: All at-home tests require you to fill out an intake survey, as you must qualify for certain criteria based on your location, symptoms, and/or exposure to someone with COVID-19. Here are some of the approved at home tests:
        • Pixel by LabCorp: Nasal swab at home test. Order the test here (questionnaire required first). Results in 1-2 days. Cost: Covered by insurance/government.
        • Hims: Saliva at home test. Order the test here (questionnaire required first). Results in 3-5 days. Cost $150.
        • Vault Health: Saliva at home test (collected with virtual supervision). Order the test here (questionnaire required first). Results in 5-7 days. Cost $150.
        • Everlywell: Limited availability right now, you can sign up to be on the waitlist to receive more information here.
        • Vitagene: Saliva at home test (collected with virtual supervision). Order the test here (questionnaire required first). Results in 3 days. Cost $119.
      • Onsite Testing at the Office: To learn more about onsite testing and screening options at your office, view Onsite Testing Options below.

2. Serological Tests aka “Antibody Tests”

Best For: Employees wanting to know if they have already been infected with COVID-19 and have recovered. This is in high demand for employees who may have been asymptomatic, not knowing they ever had COVID-19. However, the accuracy of these tests is still uncertain.

  • How does the Antibody test work?
    • After you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, your body develops antibodies – these are the proteins your body makes in response to invading germs. However, antibodies can take several days to over a week to develop.
  • I’ve heard mixed reviews on antibody testing – are these tests accurate?
    • Unfortunately, the FDA is still unsure. You can learn more about the experimental findings of recent antibody tests here – this page is dedicated to the FDA’s findings so far on a variety of antibody tests currently in the market and in development.
    • There are still a lot of unknowns about antibody tests – they can be wrong (false positives), and the likelihood of a positive antibody tests is very dependent on how many people have actually been infected with COVID-19. Because of this, many doctors are not recommending antibody testing until there is more clarity around its accuracy and usage.
  • I heard there are two types of antibody tests, what’s the difference? How are they administered?
    • There are two types of antibody tests: as described by GoodRx: the presence of immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies indicate recent exposure to COVID-19, while the presence of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies indicate later-stage infection.
    • These are typically blood sample tests.
  • Where and how do my employees get an Antibody test? Do they need a doctor’s note to get tested?
    • As mentioned, there is still a lot of skepticism and unknowns about the accuracy of antibody testing. While the quantity and available of these tests is much less than PCR tests (many are still in development), here are some options:
      • One Medical: Offering antibody tests by referral or post consult only. Find out where and how to get tested here.
      • Kaiser: Kaiser is not currently offering antibody testing. You can learn more about their rationale here.
      • Drive-Thru Testing: Walgreens is offering testing at a limited list of locations in partnership with LabCorp. You can learn about available locations here.
      • At Home Tests: There are currently no at-home antibody testing kits approved by the FDA. Scanwell is one option that is in development, you can track updates here.
      • Onsite Testing at the Office: To learn more about onsite testing and screening options at your office, view Onsite Testing & Screening Options below.

Onsite Testing & Screening Options

What do I need to know about testing and screening as it relates to my employees returning to work?

On May 6, 2020, the CDC updated their website to include the most recent interim guidance for businesses and employers responding to COVID-19. These guidelines were as stated below:

  • Updated strategies and recommendations for employers responding to COVID-19, including those seeking to resume normal or phased business operations:
    • Conducting daily health checks
    • Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
    • Encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
    • Implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace
    • Improving the building ventilation system
  • A table outlining the engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE) that employers may use to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace

While helpful, these guidelines also left employers with many questions. We’ve compiled a list of available options to support onsite testing and screening below. As this list is ever evolving, we encourage anyone with additional options to fill out our contact form.

  • One Medical: Offering onsite PCR testing in various locations. Contact SalesNewBusiness@onemedical.com for onsite testing quotes.
  • Wellness Corporate Solutions powered by LabCorp: Offering onsite symptoms and temperature check screening. More information here. Contact: info@wellnesscorporatesolutions.com.
  • Looking for more onsite options? Contact your Sequoia Client Service Manager!

I need help… where can I find more guidance on testing, screenings, policy creation, and reporting?

Don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for! For more information on our including handbooks & policies, employee communications, and analytics & tracking, check out our Sequoia Return to Work Framework™.

Kaleana Quibell – Kaleana is the Wellbeing Director for Sequoia, helping advise clients on strategies to support employees’ Physical, Emotional, and Financial wellbeing. In her free time, Kaleana enjoys yoga, the outdoors, and spending time with her family and puppy.