FDA Authorizes Three COVID-19 and Flu Combination Tests

COVID-19 and Flu Combination Tests

With just one swab or sample, combination flu and COVID-19 tests can be used to get answers to Americans faster.

These combination tests work by testing a single sample from a patient for multiple respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19 and the seasonal flu, which can show similar symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Qiagen, and BioFire Diagnostics have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority for multiplex respiratory panels that include 20 total viral and bacterial pathogens known to cause serious respiratory disease.

This efficiency can go a long way to providing timely information for those sick with an unknown respiratory ailment.

Why combination testing is important

There are several important advantages to this combination testing.

Taking just one sample from a patient may help alleviate the need for multiple samplings, which means less discomfort for the patient with faster and more comprehensive results.

In addition, combination tests require fewer supplies, such as swabs and personal protective equipment, and reduce pressure on the supply chain for reagents.

The FDA hopes to authorize more combination tests as the fall flu season approaches.

Learn why getting you flu shot for the 2020-2021 flu season is so important.

In filing for the EUA, CDC presented data on the use of the test to analyze 115 samples, most of which were infected with either SARS-CoV-2, influenza A or influenza B. The test correctly identified all the samples, resulting in an overall percent agreement of 100%.

CDC’s original SARS-CoV-2 test also had a 100% agreement in the agency’s own evaluation.

With BioFire and Qiagen generating similar performance data on their tests, the U.S. could go into the flu season with three combination diagnostics. That arsenal may prove valuable in what some observers fear could be a perfect storm for the spread of multiple viruses in the country. 

Interested in a flu shot?

We are able to schedule individual or group flu shots with our Mobile Clinic for you or your company's employees.

Can the flu shot cause you to inadvertently test positive for COVID-19?

No, the CDC and FDA say that flu vaccines contain no type of coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19. 

The CDC notes that flu shots are made in two ways, which include using:

  1. flu viruses (not SARS-CoV) that have been “inactivated” or killed and aren’t infectious, or
  2. only one gene from a flu virus, as opposed to the full virus, to create an immune response without causing infection.

The CDC also said flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. 

SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, is a coronavirus, not an influenza virus, which means getting a flu vaccine will not cause you to test positive for coronavirus.

Who should get the flu vaccine and when?

The CDC recommends that anyone 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine and recommends getting the flu vaccine as early as September and October.

Staying ahead of the virus and getting your flu shot as soon as possible will help reduce the potential strain on hospital resources if people are getting sick. However, if flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue, even in January or later.

Where can you get the flu shot?

There are a lot of options out there to get your flu shot, but if you are local to Lititz, Pennsylvania area, CNS can assist with your 2020-2021 flu shot.

We offer flu shots to individuals or companies with a large set of employees interested on obtaining the flu vaccine.

Occupational Medicine Services

Our Occupation Medicine Team is knowledgeable and focused on best-in-class customer service when it comes to treating workers and employers, creating long-term health and wellness.

The goal of our medical staff is to keep workers safe and healthy on the job, allowing you to continue the production that keeps your business running.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Fleets Transporting In Virginia Face New Covid-19 Rules And Fines

infection disease preparedness and response plan

Companies with Virginia truck drivers will have to create infectious disease preparedness and response plans

Virginia is the first state to impose enforceable COVID-19 safety requirements in the workplace. Fleets based in or operating in the state are now figuring out what the effect of this new law will be for their drivers and operations.

The final Emergency Temporary Standard rule was first made public on July 17 by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry and anticipates publication during the week of July 27.

What is required once the rule is published?

According to the rule, all companies based in Virginia will be required to:

  • classify employees by risk level (very high, high, medium and lower) based on workplace hazards and job tasks
  • establish policies for employees to self-monitor for COVID-19 signs and to report symptoms
  • put in place procedures to prevent employees who are known to have or are suspected of having COVID-19 from infecting co-workers, and
  • develop and implement a written infectious disease preparedness and response plan for employers of people in “medium risk” jobs (including truck drivers) that require being closer than 6 feet to other employees or the general public

Employers have 60 days from the rule’s effective (publication) date to develop the plan.

What does the Virginia Trucking Association (VTA) say?

According to Freightwaves, Dale Bennett, president and CEO of the Virginia Trucking Association, is seeking more clarity from the state on what he says could be a major regulatory burden for his members as well as shippers and receivers.

“If you have motor carriers or trucking companies that either do business in Virginia or have facilities in Virginia and you haven’t paid attention to this, you need to wake up,” Bennett told FreightWaves. “Anytime you talk about a new regulation, there’s going to be some cost associated with that. There are now certain requirements and responsibilities on the employer to report when employees test positive. These aren’t just guidelines anymore.”

For carriers that do not have locations in Virginia, once a driver steps out of the cab inside Virginia, there may be parts of these regulations that affect them.

What are the penalties if you disregard the rules?

According to Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, they can enforce the rules with fines for noncompliance ranging from $13,000 to $130,000 for repeat offenders and the state may shutter an employer’s operations, if deemed necessary.

How long will this last and what about other states?

The rules are set to expire six months after becoming published but could be extended if the state decides to do so.

We will be watching if additional states adopt similar plans.

DOT Compliance Services

Our complete Proactive Safety Management (PSM) program has been organized to get you through an FMCSA audit by managing your driver qualification files, drug consortium, Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), vehicle maintenance and more.

Whether you are a large trucking company that is on-boarding drivers quickly or a construction outfit with multiple trucks in your fleet, you need to stay aware of FMCSA regulations.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Reduce COVID-19 Hospital Burdens, Get a 2020 Flu Shot

flu shots and flu vaccines

Why should you get a flu shot in 2020?

Health officials are wary of a second wave of COVID-19 hitting during the 2020-2021 flu season.

If this is true, there is a strong possibility that hospitals and their resources will be placed under tremendous strain.

How can we help reduce hospital burden?

If more Americans choose to receive a flu shot, this could ease the strain on hospitals across the country.

The COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have led to decreased use of routine preventive medical services, including vaccinations.

Last year’s flu season brought in an estimated 740,000 hospitalizations and up to 62,000 deaths. With the added medical attention necessary from COVID-19 cases, you can see how this will hinder the normal operation of your local hospitals.

What does the CDC say?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that less than half of Americans, approximately 45%, get the flu vaccine each year.

This may be different in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic will most likely drive more people to getting a flu shot.

According to the CDC Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases Jay Butler, “Getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever as flu and COVID-19 could be circulating together as we move into the fall and winter months.”

Interested in a flu shot?

We are able to schedule individual or group flu shots with our Mobile Clinic for you or your company's employees.

Who should get the flu vaccine and when?

The CDC recommends that anyone 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine and recommends getting the flu vaccine as early as September and October.

Staying ahead of the virus and getting your flu shot as soon as possible will help reduce the potential strain on hospital resources if people are getting sick. However, if flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue, even in January or later.

Where can you get the flu shot?

There are a lot of options out there to get your flu shot, but if you are local to Lititz, Pennsylvania area, CNS can assist with your 2020-2021 flu shot.

We offer flu shots to individuals or companies with a large set of employees interested on obtaining the flu vaccine.

Occupational Medicine Services

Our Occupation Medicine Team is knowledgeable and focused on best-in-class customer service when it comes to treating workers and employers, creating long-term health and wellness.

The goal of our medical staff is to keep workers safe and healthy on the job, allowing you to continue the production that keeps your business running.

In addition to flu shots ,we offer a number of other health related services, including COVID-19 related services, such as pre-shift screenings, pre-employment screenings and antibody testing.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

OSHA Required Medical Tests: Audiometric and Respiratory

Audiometric and Respiratory Testing: OSHA Required Medical Tests

Audiometric and respiratory testing may be required for employment under OSHA 29 CFR

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) require pre-employment and annual medical testing for workers in various industries, including oil and gas, trucking, manufacturing, and more to ensure safe and healthy working conditions.

When it comes to employment, there are many different types of exams and testing that may be required under OSHA rules. The most common physical exams include:

  • work fitness assessment
  • fitness-for-duty exam
  • pre-employment physicals

Beyond exams, there are important occupational health tests that may be required for employment under OSHA 29 CFR, which include:

  • audiometric testing and
  • pulmonary function testing or respiratory testing

What is Audiometric Testing?

Audiometric testing is a test of a person’s ability to hear sounds and assists in monitoring an employee’s hearing over time and is OSHA required if the employer meets certain.

An audiometric testing follow-up program should indicate whether the employer’s hearing conservation program is preventing hearing loss and needs to be managed by a licensed or certified audiologist, otolaryngologist, or other physician. Both professionals and trained technicians may conduct audiometric testing.

There are two types of audiograms required in the hearing conservation program, which include, baseline and annual audiograms.

Baseline audiograms

The employer must retain the original baseline audiogram for the length of the employee’s employment. The professional may decide to revise the baseline audiogram if the employee’s hearing improves. This will ensure that the baseline reflects actual hearing thresholds to the extent possible.

Annual audiograms

Annual audiograms must be provided within 1 year of the baseline. It is important to test workers’ hearing annually to identify deterioration in their hearing ability as early as possible. This enables employers to initiate protective follow-up measures before hearing loss progresses.

Employers must compare annual audiograms to baseline audiograms to determine whether the audiogram is valid and whether the employee has lost hearing ability or experienced a standard threshold shift (STS). An STS is an average shift in either ear of 10 dB or more at 2,000, 3,000, and 4,000 hertz.

What are employer OSHA requirements?

Under the OSH law, employers are required to maintain a safe workplace for all employees. Failure to do so can lead to serious fines and penalties.

Employers must:

  1. make audiometric testing available to all employees exposed to an action level of 85dB (decibels) or above, measured as an 8-hr time weighted average (TWA).
  2. maintain a Hearing Conservation Program to include monitoring, testing, follow-up, training and recordkeeping (regardless of the number of employees).document and keep noise exposure measurement records for 2 years and maintain records of audiometric test results for the duration of the affected employee’s employment.
    • Audiometric test records must include:
      • the employee’s name
      • job classification,
      • date
      • examiner’s name
      • date of the last acoustic or exhaustive calibration
      • measurements of the background sound pressure levels in audiometric test rooms, and
      • the employee’s most recent noise exposure measurement.

We provide baseline, periodic, and exit audiograms, as well as any follow-up testing and training at the employer’s request. Testing will be performed by trained technicians and the program will be overseen by an Audiologist or Physician.

Occupational Medicine: Free Company Analysis

Our Occupational Medicine Specialists can provide a free health analysis of your company. We will help determine what tests are necessary for your company.

What is Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) or Respiratory Testing?

A pulmonary function test or respiratory test is OSHA-mandated to determine if an employee can safely and effectively wear a respirator to protect the health of the employee against breathing airborne contaminants.

Before your employees use a respirator or are fit-tested, they must be medically evaluated and cleared by a licensed healthcare professional using a “Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire.”

Employers must select a physician or other licensed healthcare professional (PLHCP), such as a registered nurse or physician’s assistant, to perform the medical evaluation and evaluate your health, specific job description, respirator type, and workplace conditions.

Some conditions that could prevent you from using a respirator include:

  • heart conditions
  • lung disease, and
  • psychological conditions, such as claustrophobia

An employees responses to the medical questionnaire are confidential and may not be shared with your employer.

When required by the PLHCP, additional follow-up testing may include a medical exam, additional questionnaire, PFT, EKG, chest x-ray, blood draw and urine sample.

What is Spirometry Testing?

Some occupational and personal exposures can accelerate this loss of function over time. Beyond the respirator medical evaluation, a spirometry breathing test shows how well you can move air in and out of your lungs. Periodic spirometry testing can be used to detect such accelerated losses.

Under OSHA 29 CFR PFT, spirometry testing is required in conjunction with the respirator fit test under certain circumstances to measure respiratory function.

Spirometry testing may be performed on workers who perform jobs that may cause exposure to possible lung hazards, are physically demanding, or require wearing a respirator. Spirometry is used to diagnose asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other conditions that affect breathing and is required for some workers by OSHA standards.

Before conducting spirometry testing, technician should interview the worker, review medical records, and possibly consult with the PLHCP to identify health conditions that may prevent the worker from safely performing maximal efforts in a spirometry test.

All respiratory testing will be performed by a PLHCP and/or trained technician and will provide you and your employer with a written recommendation (with no confidential information) that includes:

  • If you are medically able to wear the respirator and any medical limitations for using one;
  • If any follow-up medical evaluations are needed; and
  • A statement that the doctor or licensed healthcare professional has provided you with a copy of their written recommendation.

You must be re-evaluated when:

  • Reported medical signs or symptoms, such as a heart condition, lung disease, or claustrophobia;
  • A physician or licensed healthcare professional, supervisor, or the respirator program administrator informs your employer that you need to be re-evaluated;
  • The respiratory protection program indicates a need for you to be re-evaluated; or
  • A change occurs in workplace conditions that increases the burden on you while using the respirator.

>>> Learn more about Occupational Medicine <<<

Occupational Medicine Services

Employer OSHA and Occupational Medicine testing

We are able to assist with your OSHA and Occupational Medicine needs, no matter your company size.

Individual and combined services are available:

  • Audiograms, respiratory and hazwoper physicals
  • DOT and non-DOT drug and alcohol consortiums
  • Drug and alcohol testing programs
  • Exposure testing and medical surveillance
  • Mobile Health Clinic available for on-site services
  • OSHA compliant physicals and exams
  • Pre-hire screenings
  • Pre-employment and DOT physicals
  • School bus driver physical exams
  • Vaccinations and flu shots
  • Workplace injury treatment and management

The goal of our best-in-class medical examiners is to keep workers safe and healthy on the job, creating long term health and wellness, allowing you to continue the production that keeps your business running.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

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COVID-19 Return to Work Plan: Antibody Testing and Temperature Screening

Return-to-Work Plans | DOT Compliance | CNS

What is your company’s Return to Work Plan?

As stay at home orders are being lifted across the country and employees start trickling back into the office or plants, it would be wrong to assume things will return to normal.

It is imperative that business owners take responsibility for protecting their employees and this can be accomplished by developing a Return to Work Plan for their organization.

In hotspots like New York, many are convinced they have already been exposed to and contracted COVID-19. However, the worse thing a person could do is assume they are immune because they believe that fever back in January was COVID-19.

This type of mentality makes a Return to Work Plan even more important.

What is a Return to Work Plan?

Basically, it means that businesses need to create a process and an environment that makes it safe for their employees to return to work.

Each Return to Work Plan will of course be unique to the company, but there are many similar concepts that can be implemented, including:

  • Antibody Testing
  • Pre-shift Temperature Screenings
  • How often will employees be checked?
  • Will employees return on a gradual basis?
  • Are there plans for cleaning of work areas?
  • Are there plans for keeping employees at a distanced?
  • Will face masks be required?

There is a much longer list  of rules and procedures that business owners can follow, but our focus is on the two that will assist in determining if employees are safe to be at work, Antibody Testing and Pre-shift Temperature Screenings.

What is COVID-19 Antibody Testing?

The COVID-19 Antibody Test provides individuals insight into whether they have been exposed to coronavirus and developed antibodies. This could be invaluable information for your company and assist in many decisions related to those employees who have developed immunity.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, COVID-19 antibody testing may indicate whether “the person has been exposed to the virus and developed antibodies against it, which may mean that person has at least some immunity to the coronavirus.”

However, it is important to note that the length of protection and whether the antibodies protect from re-infection is unknown at this point.

On May 7, a New York Times article detailed a new study that “adds evidence of immunity among those who have already been exposed to the disease, regardless of age, sex or severity of illness – making antibodies to the virus.” Experts were shocked by the percentage of people who have antibodies that were never diagnosed with coronavirus.

How is Antibody Testing useful for employers?

While the science on COVID-19 is evolving, testing for antibodies may help identify individuals who have likely been exposed. This information is helpful to make informed decisions about their risk of infection and spreading the virus in the workplace.

This is useful for employers as staff who are immune could replace vulnerable individuals, especially in high-transmission settings in the transportation industry, building a “shield immunity” in the population.

As of this writing, the Center for Health Security has provided a list of tests approved for research or individual use in the US that accurately detect antibodies in people who have them between 82 and 100 percent of the time. Their ability to correctly identify antibodies only in those who actually have them ranges from 91 to 100 percent.

It may take up to 14 days after the onset of symptoms for antibodies to be developed within the body and 91% of people develop such antibodies within the first 8-13 days. Some of those infected with COVID-19 will never exhibit symptoms, but will have a detectable antibody response.

Who is a candidate for Antibody Testing?

Antibody testing is not intended for use in individuals with an active COVID-19 infection, including individuals with symptoms. Patients who believe they may have COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to contact their healthcare provider.

All interested persons who have neither felt feverish in the last 3 days nor experienced any other COVID-19 symptoms within the past 10 days are appropriate candidates. Symptoms include:

  • loss of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • dry cough
  • feeling weak or lethargic
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • slurred speech
  • seizures

To protect collection site staff, please remember to wear either a face mask or some other form of face covering, when arriving at the laboratory collection site.

What are COVID-19 Pre-Shift Temperature Screenings?

Pre-Shift Temperature Screenings simply means that you will be screening each crew member and staff when they are reporting for duty, thereby reducing the risk to other employees.

If your employees have direct contact with someone who is ill or otherwise vulnerable populations, you want to know right away to prevent any spreading to other staff members.

Temperature screenings would be useful to continue using on all employees or those that have tested negative for antibodies.

Learn more about:
COVID-19 Services and Pre-shift Temperature Screenings

How can CNS help?

At CNS, we know how difficult it is as a business owner to determine what steps need to be taken, so we are assisting employers in getting their Return to Work Plans started by implementing our COVID-19 Antibody Tests and Pre-Shift Temperature Screenings.

Our Antibody test is a blood test identifying the presence of antibodies which indicate a person’s immune response to COVID-19. Positive results indicate that an individual may have had previous exposure to COVID-19 and their body has developed antibodies.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

COVID-19 Temperature Checks: Prescreening Truck Drivers and Staff

COVID-19 Temperature Screenings | DOT Compliance Services | CNS

Prescreening temperature checks:
What are they and why are they important?

The trucking industry will be dealing with the coronavirus, or COVID-19, for the long haul, which is why prescreening temperature checks are so important.

Until a vaccine has been found, approved and mass produced and distributed, fleets and distribution sites will need to find ways to keep their drivers and facilities safe from potential exposure.

Earlier this month, the president of the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA), Todd Spencer, expressed concern that “once word spreads that drivers are testing positive, we could very well see a tremendous reduction in drivers willing to risk everything for the rest of us.”

Spencer believes there should be greater efforts made to provide drivers with personal protective equipment, which hopefully helps them avoid infection and stay on the job.

Truck drivers working from home?

Unfortunately, truck drivers cannot work from home and with more than 1.8 million CMV truck drivers in America, the potential for exposure is high.

For anyone that is exposed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance for essential workers—including those in trucking—allowing them to continue work provided they are asymptomatic and take additional precautions to protect themselves and the community.

Potential exposure means having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, including the 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.

This guidance was in response to several states and local cities, such as Ohio, Delaware, San Francisco, and Santa Clara County, who urged or required temperature checks before employees are permitted to report to work.

Truck drivers face greater risk of illness

Several factors put truck drivers at greater risk of being exposed and/or contracting the coronavirus, including nationwide travel, handling of overseas goods, exposure at truck stops for meals and showers and multiple facility stops.

Besides the greater risk of contact with the coronavirus, according to a 2014 study by the CDC, drivers may also be at greater risk of falling ill from the virus.

The study showed more than half of truck drivers smoke and are two times as likely to have diabetes as the rest of the population. These health factors put them in a higher risk category should they contract

Why are pre-shift temperature screenings important?

Screening each fleet driver and staff when they are reporting for duty ensures less risk to other employees. If your staff has direct contact with someone who is ill or otherwise vulnerable, it is important to catch it ahead of time to prevent spreading to other staff members.

With frequent facility stops, it is nearly impossible for drivers to know if they have been within 6 feet of someone who has been exposed to coronavirus. The best practice in this situation is to implement CDC’s guideline of pre-screen temperature checks for your entire fleet and staff.

Do not risk the health or your employees or your business. Follow these best practices when implementing temperature screenings:

  1. Communicate with your employees clearly before temperature checks are implemented
  2. Administer screening questionnaires to get a better idea of potential exposures
  3. Set a temperature test limit, preventing any employees to enter the workplace if exceeded
    • The CDC considers a person to have a fever when temperature is at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  4. Set-up temperature testing in the least invasive way possible, ideally with devices that can register temperature without exposure to bodily fluids.  
  5. Appoint someone with proper training, such as CNS on-site staff, to facilitate or administer on-site temperature checks.
  6. Maintain social distancing guidelines with your temperature check station.

Are you concerned for your staff and drivers about COVID-19 exposure?

We offer on-site pre-shift screenings, screening questionnaires and temperature screenings for your distribution site, terminal, construction site or office.

We will also be offering antibody testing soon, which will allow employers insight into employee exposure to COVID-19 and whether or not they have developed antibodies.

If you think your business may be a candidate for prescreening temperature checks, you can contact us now or learn more about our COVID-19 services.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.