A Test for Local Employers

by Leona Baker

Vaccine mandates and regular testing alternatives present challenges for companies who may turn to businesses like recently established ArcPoint Labs in Virginia Beach

With employee COVID-19 vaccination requirements for the federal government, federal contractors, healthcare entities and private companies with 100 or more employees, many local businesses have struggled to find paths to compliance.

Some began independently implementing mandatory vaccines for workers, in some cases plying them with incentives like prizes and coveted parking spaces—before the federal mandate was announced in September. Others, like Newport News Shipbuilding, told employees in no uncertain terms immediately following the federal announcement that they would lose their jobs if they have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8.

The federal mandate allows weekly COVID-19 testing as an alternative to vaccination—a service for which local employers might turn to a company like the recently established ArcPoint Labs in Virginia Beach. Opened in September 2019, ArcPoint began offering a core set of services such as toxicology, urinalysis, background screening, and fingerprinting along with some clinical services for individuals and companies.

Then COVID-19 hit, and like many businesses, ArcPoint found itself quickly pivoting to meet a new set of urgent client needs, allowed by the FDA under Emergency Use Authorization for use by authorized laboratories, including COVID antibody testing and rapid and traditional lab-based viral testing.

“We were able to bring those tests to the market first before anybody else,” notes ArcPoint President Rudy Patel, who says his academic background in biomedical science and chemistry helped streamline that process. ArcPoint conducts testing for individuals and businesses at its location in the Pembroke are of Virginia Beach but also onsite testing for companies that may want to test employees in bulk.

“With the mandate, we did get a lot of calls from all sizes of businesses who wanted to head off this policy that may be imposed on them,” Patel says. “Right now the biggest thing is budget; they are trying to figure out does the company pay for those weekly tests or does it come out of employees’ pockets.”

Traditional lab tests can take 3-4 days to produce results, Patel notes, and many employers don’t want employees to compromise their work efficiency by being away from the job that long. The rapid tests are considerably more expensive, but ArcPoint is currently working to expand its high-complexity testing offerings, which could reduce costs and turn-around time.

“These are the dilemmas that employers are facing,” says Patel. “We are trying to help them out the way we can, and we’ll see how we can help home more.

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