Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!
Rapid COVID-19 Tests Might Be Missing Cases
Health researchers at NYU are sounding the alarm on the Abbott Laboratories COVID-19 test, according to Kaiser Health News. The test, which has received praise from the Trump Administration in press briefings, can return COVID-19 positive results in as little as nine minutes. It’s been distributed to to mobile testing units and public health sites around the country.
Now, the FDA has received 106 “adverse event reports” surrounding the Abbott test, and the NYU study found that the test missed nearly half of the positive samples found by a rival company’s test. Other studies have found a lower margin of error.
Quick non-clinical COVID-19 tests are expected to be somewhat less accurate than lab tests, with a general expectation by the FDA of a 95% success rate. However, the FDA has been permitting point of care tests with a accuracy rate as low as 80%. Some healthcare experts are saying that’s just not enough.
Fitbit’s Back-to-Work Initiative To Help Employers Safely Reopen
Fitbit’s Health Solutions wing is rolling at Ready for Work, a tool that works with Fitbit’s wearable technology to help employees stay safe in reopening workplaces. Using the tool with a wearable will allow employees to engage with a daily digital check-in, which will log information about exposure, symptoms, and body temperature. The health metrics will then provide guidance if the employee shouldn’t go to the workplace on that day.
Ready for Work will also grant employees access to Fitbit Care’s platform, which offers webinars, podcasts, videos, and other coaching content to help employees find strategies to adjust and cope with change.
Contact Tracing Workforce Building, But Still Understaffed
Across the United States, contract tracers are being trained to trace the contacts of positive COVID-19 cases and ask them to take precautions, like self-quarantine. It’s a strategy widely used around the world, and public health experts agree it’s a crucial step in containing the spread of the coronavirus. However, some experts feel the build-up isn’t fast enough. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NPR that “we’re reopening before we have the system ready to stop cases from becoming clusters and clusters from becoming outbreaks.”
States are building their contact tracing staff in different ways. Some are turning to volunteers, some are receiving grants from philanthropic agencies, and some are using public service groups like Americorps. Even within states, it’s often broken apart by individual county health departments. The CDC is providing support to these patchwork contact tracing organizations, but some public health experts are calling for a nationally-led program.