New COVID-19 Initiative Sets Out to Help Companies Bring Workers Back

August 11, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson
Work spaces at Highland Landscaping in Southlake have been spaced out so employees can maintain proper social distancing. Workers don't have to wear masks at their desks, but they must do so if they move around the office.

In an effort to help companies bring workers safely back amid the pandemic, a new initiative called the COVID-19 Diagnostics Commons was announced in late July as a collaborative effort between Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions and the World Economic Forum, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation. 

The COVID-19 Diagnostics Commons is a publicly accessible interactive hub that shares information on COVID-19 testing options as well as knowledge on practices from employers around the globe on how to bring back and keep employees safe during the pandemic. 

The COIVD-19 Diagnostics Commons initiative is co-led by Mara Aspinall, a professor of Practice, and Nate Wade, the senior director of Strategic Initiatives, both of ASU’s College of Health Solutions. 

Aspinall tells The Well News that the initiative was created after ASU hosted a national summit addressing diagnostic testing for COVID-19 in May. 

“We [ASU] had 60 experts discussing the challenges around expanding testing. Important solutions were formulated and WEF and [the] Rockefeller [Foundation] wanted to work with us and others on implementing those actions,” said Aspinall of the May summit. 

There are two resources available to employers as part of the COVID-19 Diagnostics Commons.

The COVID-19 Workplace Commons features the Keeping Workers Well survey that asks employers basic information about their company as well as comprehensive information about their response to the pandemic, including, but not limited to, potential testing and contact tracing efforts. 

The survey is intended as a collection point for diagnostic experts to compile data that will be shared in an online interactive dashboard. Employers of all industry sectors, sizes and types are encouraged to take the 30-minute survey at ASUcovidcommons.com

Wade said he anticipates having enough survey results for an interactive dashboard by October. 

In addition to the Workplace Commons, the COVID-19 Testing Commons features a comprehensive database of tests on the market and those in development. The database is updated regularly and organized for users with parameters such as test type, detection technology, country of origin, and more. 

“Workers and consumers around the world not only need to be safe, but also feel safe, and one of the best ways to do this is by expanded access to testing,” said Dr. Jonathan “Jono” D. Quick, the managing director for pandemic response, preparedness, and prevention at The Rockefeller Foundation. 

“But with over 1,400 tests currently on the market or in the pipeline, businesses and public health administrators need the right tools to make the right purchase choices. The COVID-19 Testing Commons is that tool to help decision-makers find the tests that most closely match their needs,” continued Dr. Quick. 

Genya Dana, the head of healthcare transformation at the World Economic Forum, said, 

“The Forum and ASU are collaborating with the U.S. National Safety Council on their SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns initiative, as part of our broader COVID-19 response. 

“There are many additional resources available through this multifaceted, comprehensive effort aimed at helping employers prioritize safety as they return employees to traditional work environments and schedules in a post-quarantine world.” To continue following the coalition’s efforts on helping employers bring workers safely back into the workforce, those interested can sign up to get involved with the COVID19 Diagnostics Commons.

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