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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Recovery Blueprint

COVID-19 testing will be an instrumental tool as businesses return to in-person work and Abbott Laboratories has worked to exemplify the testing process at its facility in Sylmar.Nationally, Abbott’s COVID-19 program has tested employees more than 1.1 million times and among that number, boasted a positivity rate of less than 1 percent. The majority of Abbott employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic.On a weekly basis, more than 38,000 employees are tested at 84 Abbott facilities globally. One of those facilities is in Sylmar, where the company makes medical devices for patients who live with heart rhythm disorders.The Sylmar facility is home to about 1,100 employees and has a drive-thru testing checkpoint that 1,000 employees use weekly. Prior to entering the building, employees are tested using Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen test kit. They must wait 15 minutes for results, which are delivered through NAVICA, a companion app. The app was created to receive and store encrypted results for select Abbott COVID-19 tests. Then the employees either proceed to work or head back home, depending on their result.The employee positivity rate for Abbott’s Sylmar facility has consistently stayed at zero percent.“This is as safe as it can be, knowing that everyone has passed on weekly basis. It is great that we have this ability to test our employees,” said Jennifer Saba, an environment, health and safety manager.‘Peace of mind’The Abbott facility in Sylmar has continued operations through the thick of the pandemic. The ability to test employees gave the company a sense of control during a time where uncertainty was widespread.“It gave (employees) tremendous peace of mind to know that we were able to test and make sure that no one was inadvertently getting infected at work or infecting others at work,” Mary Moreland, executive vice president of human resources, said. Moreland added that office workers in particular were relieved to receive COVID tests after returning from holidays.A priority for Abbott has been maintaining a healthy workplace that acknowledges and manages the reality that, though not all employees are vaccinated, they are at the very least, tested.“I feel like we’re role models for other companies to follow in our footsteps, because (testing is) something that provides reassurance to our employees, to their families and to our community, each and every day when they come to work,” said Saba.Moreland said businesses have purchased BinaxNOW to test employees prior to the start of a new week or decided to keep some on hand in case employees are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.“The companies and organizations using our tests for employees span the health care, technology, manufacturing, utilities, financial, retail, hospitality and education industries,” Ellen Wichman, an Abbott spokesperson wrote in an email.The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends that those with any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested, regardless of their vaccination status or prior infection. If an individual gets tested because they show symptoms or were potentially exposed to COVID-19, the CDC advises that they should stay away from others pending test results.The BinaxNOW test kit is available over the counter, contains two tests per pack and costs $23.99.

Antonio Pequeño IV
Antonio Pequeño IV
Antonio “Tony” Pequeño IV is a reporter covering health care, finance and law for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. He specializes in reporting on some of the biggest names in the Valley’s biotechnology sector. In addition to his work with the Business Journal, Tony has reported with BuzzFeed News on the unsupervised use of Clearview AI, a controversial facial recognition technology. Tony, who also conducts freelance reporting, graduated from the USC’s Master of Science in Journalism program in 2021. He is in his fifth year as a journalist as of 2021.

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