Mountain Country Foods has partnered with Immunostics Inc. and Dr. L Scott Benson of the University of Utah School of Medicine to support and maintain a healthy workforce during the COVID-19 crisis.
Eatontown, NJ, May 18, 2020 --(PR.com)-- Mountain Country Foods (MCF) has been deemed an essential employer and employs over 500 individuals in Utah County, Utah. MCF had already put in place a number of guidelines and safeguards to protect the health and safety of its employees and their families that meet or exceed CDC guidelines. In addition to the required guidelines, this partnership facilitated on-site testing for COVID-19 for all employees. “Our priority is the physical and emotional health and safety of our employees, their families and this community,” said Doug Ford, owner of MCF. This partnership was formed to bring together experts in the field of infectious diseases and state of the art diagnostic testing as a means of providing a healthy work place for the employees and peace of mind that they are protecting their families while continuing to work. Immunostics Inc. is a technology leader in providing rapid and accurate serology testing for both IgM and IgG antibodies to COVID-19. “With a couple of drops of blood we are able to quantify the levels of both antibodies for each employee in the company and help interpret if they have had exposure to COVID-19 leading to infection. It takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes from when an employee sits down to have their finger pricked, until we have the results of the antibody testing in hand,” said Dr. Scott Benson, a physician trained in infectious disease who works around the globe. "The COVID-19 pandemic is consuming significant medical supplies and resources whereas our innovative AFIAS platform only requires a 30 ul fingerstick of a blood sample, thus eliminating a need to use a swab and other related materials that are in short supply. The AFIAS antibody test offers rapid results and is easy to operate by anyone, which enables it to be deployed wherever COVID-19 tests are required in Utah,” said Adam Choe, president and CEO, Immunostics, Inc.
MCF is now going beyond the standard steps of providing masks and making hand sanitizer more available. Increased cleaning and disinfection, monitoring of self-reported signs and symptoms as well as temperature checks and social distancing all help to keep the workforce healthy. Now by adding antibody detection, MCF has further reduced the risk for their employees. This provides confidence that they can continue to perform their jobs in a safe environment. Each employee has been screened by providing a completed checklist of self-reported signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and then screened using the Immunostics AFIAS-6, point of care COVID-19 test platform. A single AFIAS-6 unit has an effective throughput of about 25 tests per hour. MCF acquired two AFIAS-6 units and was able to screen all 500 employees in a matter of hours. Each person was informed within minutes of their antibody status, and employees that were symptomatic or had antibody evidence of infection were immediately sent for PCR testing at the local testing facility. It is recognized that antibody formation can be delayed for hours to days after exposure and can miss very recent infection. One strength of the AFIAS-6 platform is the speed, low cost and quantitative measurement of antibodies. By screening each employee at day 1, then repeating screening the following week, anyone in the window of infection that did not test positive at day 1 screening would be captured at the second screening event. Thereafter, employees can be tested on an as needed basis if they present with signs or symptoms, or a member of their work team tests positive. This ongoing monitoring will help maintain a healthy and safe workforce. Dr. Benson said, “We recognize there are limitations to how one can interpret IgG antibodies and what it means for immunity from the disease. Having IgG, at this point in time, does not ensure immunity from the disease, but does provide evidence that they have been exposed and if PCR negative, have overcome the disease. Our hope is that like most viral illnesses that they then have a transient immunity whose duration is still yet undefined. But in the short term, they are at a lower risk, coming back to work.”