FSC: COVID-19 TESTS NOT YET EFFECTIVE FOR PASS
COVID-19 tests are not effective in guarding against on-set transmission of the coronavirus, and should not be used to determine on-set risk to talent and crew. The production hold called by FSC in March remains in effect until further notice. Regardless of the availability of testing, it is not yet safe to return to work.
As of now, COVID-19 tests only detect whether or not a person has the virus at the time of the test. Someone who initially tests negative for COVID-19 can be exposed to the virus in the hours and days after the test, and subsequently pass it on to scene partners and crew.
While a test can provide confirmation of diagnosis, and help slow the spread of the virus on a societal level, current COVID-19 tests are not useful in determining whether or not it is safe to shoot with a particular partner, or whether it is safe to shoot on a specific set on a specific date.
FSC has formed a COVID-19 Task Force of performers, producers, agents, and staff in order to establish the benchmarks that will determine when production can resume safely. We are working quickly to provide guidance for the industry and will be seeking input from the community as it develops.
Will a COVID-19 test be added to PASS?
Not yet. While COVID-19 tests are useful for personal diagnosis, they are not yet effective for establishing safer sets. Adding the current COVID-19 tests to PASS when the results could become invalid any time after the test would provide a false sense of security for talent and crew. As more becomes known about the incubation period of the coronavirus, and as new tests become faster and more precise, it’s possible that COVID-19 testing could become part of a broader toolkit for prevention, in connection with PASS.
When will sets re-open?
We do not yet have a date for resuming production. FSC has convened a COVID-19 Task Force in order to establish benchmarks to be met, and potential safety protocols to be instituted, before sets can again operate safely. The current production hold is still in effect, in compliance with shelter-in-place orders from regional and national public health agencies.
What about antibody tests?
Antibody tests are not an effective method of preventing transmission of the virus on set. Even if you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, or recovered from it, you remain at risk of contracting it again. The presence of COVID-19 antibodies — a sign that a person has been exposed to or recovered from coronavirus infection — may not prevent you from getting COVID-19 again or transmitting coronavirus to others to someone else. Furthermore, current antibody tests show a high number of false positives.
What about taking temperature on-set?
While thermometers might eventually be part of a comprehensive on-set safety protocol, they are not effective at keeping the virus off-set. An estimated 25-50% of all coronavirus carriers are asymptomatic, and will not have a fever or other symptoms of illness, but will still be able to infect others with the virus.
Can I shoot at home?
Those who share a residence with scene partners are exempt from the current shutdown restrictions. All other production is subject to the shutdown.
Why is COVID-19 testing different from STI testing?
There are significant differences between the effectiveness of PASS testing and a COVID-19 test due to the potential severity of infection, the infectivity of the disease and potential vectors and disease prevalence.
In other words, COVID-19 is a potentially fatal illness that is highly infectious, and, unlike HIV, can be transmitted shortly after infection through everyday contact with a largely untested population.
The PASS testing panel was developed by industry and infectious disease specialists to minimize the risk of exposure to STIs. While PASS can not completely eliminate the potential risk of an HIV or other sexually transmitted infection (STI) exposure, we can be very confident that there is minimal risk of exposure or transmission during a two-week testing period. Based on the current science, we do not have that same level of confidence with COVID-19 testing.