From nursing homes in New York and a landfill in Utah to Disney World and the Las Vegas Strip, employers are wrestling with workplace safety in the age of Covid-19 and making fraught calculations about how to safeguard both their businesses and their employees.

Mass testing, a critical tool to stem the virus’s spread, would appear an obvious solution.

But dogged by issues of cost — diagnostic tests start at around $100 each — access, logistics and employee privacy, tests aren’t part of most back-to-work plans. As health-care companies that work with employers in this capacity are fond of saying, there’s no silver bullet.

Another major deterrent is that Covid-19 tests only measure that point in time, notes Lauren Vela, senior director for the Pacific Business Group on Health, which represents large employers like Microsoft Corp. and Walmart Inc. If a worker is infected shortly after being tested, it wouldn’t show up but everyone would be falsely reassured by the negative result.

Testing is “not really available, feasible or easy, and it’s not a solution you can do for every employee, every day,” Vela said.

So instead employers are favoring lower-cost, easier-to-implement interventions like temperature checks and symptom screening while also stocking up on masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes. While those measures help, asymptomatic individuals could still transmit the virus.

Health-care startup Buoy Health has been working with employers on Covid workplace issues. Only a few are taking an on-site testing approach.

“The cost of the test at scale is pretty prohibitive,” Chief Executive Officer Andrew Le said.

But at Walt Disney Co. theme parks, actors working the live shows are demanding screenings before they return.

Performers sing, dance and hand things to each other, noted Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Association, the union that represents cast members at Broadway shows and Disney’s Florida resorts.

“There’s lot of people who can do their work when they’re wearing a mask and gloves. Our people can’t do that,” Shindle said in an interview. “It’s just very important to our membership, who otherwise is overwhelmingly eager to get back to work.”

In a June 24 letter to its unions in California, Disney said it doesn’t think testing is a good idea, citing a high rate of false negatives and concerns that it creates “a false sense of security,” among other factors. Instead, it’s focusing on physical distancing, wearing effective face coverings, hand washing and sanitization.

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