South County Maker Tests Employees for COVID

RICHMOND – While most factory workers are used to punching a clock when they arrive for their shifts, workers at VIBCO Vibrators had to put a cotton swab under their noses on Friday.

It was part of what company president Karl Wadensten said was a first for a Rhode Island manufacturer – company staff were trained to administer the BinaxNOW test for the coronavirus.

On Friday morning, some 70 company employees, along with around 20 friends and family, took the test, which gives results in 15 minutes. Wadensten said no one had tested positive.

This was a change from two weeks ago, he said, when the state Department of Health sent a mobile test vehicle to the company’s headquarters in Stilson Road to administer the tests. COVID PCR tests. One person tested positive, Wadensten said, adding that the employee never developed any symptoms and returned to work about a week later after two negative tests.

While the PCR test is great for screening employees, the results take a day or two to be returned.

The BinaxNOW test has a much faster turnaround time, which will also allow the company to administer it to third parties who need to visit their facilities, such as subcontractors performing maintenance work on equipment in the facility. company or suppliers who need to meet about new product offerings.

In the past, during the pandemic, maintenance work has been postponed and meetings with suppliers have been held outside, which is not ideal, especially with the winter weather setting in, said Wadensten. Now visitors can be screened for COVID before entering.

“We can test them at the gate in 15 minutes,” said Wadensten. “If we want to stay open, we need to reassure our employees and their families.”

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