As the Delta variant spreads throughout the U.S., a COVID-19 case on a job site significantly can affect a project if the entire crew is required to quarantine.
Ezra Laniado, owner of Landmark Construction Crew, Los Angeles, said he quickly learned that to keep projects running smoothly, anyone who got sick needed to stay away and immediately get tested, according to www.constructiondive.com.
Contractors say widespread availability of testing and quick turnaround times for results drastically have increased the ability to prevent spread on job sites.
“Testing is one of the basic things we can do to mitigate spread,” said Dr. Brian Cruz, regional medical director at Connecticut-based PhysicianOne Urgent Care, which consults with employers regarding workplace health. “It allows you to isolate those who are positive and remove them from the workplace.”
Cruz also said although vaccinated people who were exposed but are not experiencing symptoms should wear masks and get tested three to five days after the event, CDC guidance says they do not have to quarantine unless they receive a positive result.
There currently are two main types of tests—rapid antigen tests, which look for specific proteins on the surface of the virus, and polymerase chain reaction tests, which detect genetic material from the virus at the molecular level.
Cruz said polymerase chain reaction tests still are the most accurate, but rapid antigen tests can be more than 90% accurate when symptoms are present. However, they are less reliable in detecting asymptomatic cases.
Sheri Dizon, CFO of Landmark Builders, San Jose, Calif., said because testing is so quick, workers generally stay away from work voluntarily if they feel sick. If they believe they may have COVID-19, they get tested. She also said her firm’s workers and subcontractors self-monitor to help prevent workplace spread, using a site screening app that can address current symptoms, whether workers have had contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and vaccination status.
Peacock Construction, Milpitas, Calif., has partnered with a local lab and sends any workers displaying symptoms or not feeling well to get tested immediately, with same-day results.
“We’ve gotten through at least this first part of the pandemic with zero job-site transmissions,” said Kyle Peacock, CEO of Peacock Construction. “We did have some cases on-site, but we were able to identify them, isolate them and then contact trace from there.”