Rapid tests could be a way to get people back to work

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo says one prediction model shows the coronavirus pandemic could last all the way through July. However he believes there is a way to get people back to work prior to that, while still managing the crisis.

“The best way to do that is to come up with a rapid testing procedure where people can test. They know who is positive. They know whose negative, and they know who can come back to work,” the governor said during his daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday.

Cuomo spoke about testing workers as a way of getting the economy running again while the pandemic plays out. One of the most dire models funded by the Gates Foundation projects a high death rate through July. “If this model is correct, this could go through the summer,” said Cuomo.

The FDA has been granting emergency-use approval for quick tests. Abbott Labs (ABT) recently received approval for a test which can detect COVID-19 in as little as 5 minutes.

[Read more: FDA greenlights COVID-19 point-of-care test]

Current testing is still widely reserved for the most at-risk population, people with severe symptoms, and health care professionals. Companies are quickly ramping up production to meet an outsized demand. Bodysphere says it’s positioned to have millions of test kits on the front lines in weeks.

Cuomo envisions tests which people could do at home. “Not only do you get the economy running, you end the anxiety,” said Cuomo.

Coronavirus cases are still on the rise. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

Privacy concerns

Dr. Deborah Peel, founder and president of Patient Privacy Rights, predicts most people will want to take a test. However mandating it as a requirement for going back to work raises health privacy issues. “The problem is rolling it back,” Peel tells Yahoo Finance. “When things get dire, okay we do clamp down. But we can’t leave the clamps on forever. The information, especially health information is incredibly sensitive”

In New York, the epicenter of COVID-19 nationwide, coronavirus cases surged past 83,000 on Wednesday, compared to 75,000 the day before.

The Trump administration’s Coronavirus Task Force estimates up to 240,000 deaths could occur nationwide due to the coronavirus.

Coronavirus cases are still on the rise. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

Ines covers the US stock market from the floor of the New York Exchange. Follow her on Twitter at @inesreports.

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