By Kevin Deutsch
Coral Springs has instituted a robust new testing regime to rapidly identify COVID-19 infections amid its workforce during the Omicron wave, relying on daily tests to keep employees as safe as possible from the virus, city officials said Wednesday.
In August, Dr. Peter Antevy, the city’s medical director, introduced RT-Lamp testing for city employees, relying on weekly test samples to detect the virus and try and prevent its spread. With the rise of Omicron, Antevy and the city shifted to surveillance testing seven days a week to identify potentially COVID positive employees, aiming to prevent the spread of the disease to others, officials said.
The test used by the city is the RT-Lamp, which relies on a self-administered nasal swab. It can detect the coronavirus 12 to 18 hours before a rapid antigen test and is more cost-effective and confidential than other testing forms, including PCR and antigen tests, according to the city.
For city staff working in person, the daily test is now mandatory.
“I’m so proud that our city is the first municipality in the country to be doing this testing,” said Antevy.
“What we’re doing now is rolling out a new type of test, RT-Lamp,” Antevy said in a video posted on YouTube Monday. “RT-Lamp has the same accuracy as a PCR test, the test we used to send to the lab. But the beauty of this test [is] our lab is on-site, and it’s controlled here, by us, in Coral Springs, is highly accurate, and also can detect COVID even before you become symptomatic.”
“It can be done within seconds,” said Antevy, “and we’re going to be using technology to provide you the results within hours.”
The testing process is simple: the employee places a small swab in the front of their nose to gather a sample. Next, they place the sample in a plastic tube, register the sample using a smartphone app, and bring the tube to a pre-selected site in their workplace. They are notified of a result within hours.
Coral Springs is using “pooled testing,” in which up to four employees at a time place their swabs in a single tube for lab testing, Antevy said.
“That allows us to do widescale testing that’s highly accurate for little cost [and] protect the entire workforce…we can find out early enough if someone has COVID around you to protect you from getting the virus.”
Currently, Coral Springs and the Town of Davie are the only municipalities using surveillance COVID testing to prevent the virus’ spread, according to city officials.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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