HABCO Industries and The Gilman Brothers are among a growing list of Connecticut employers taking additional preemptive measures to protect workplaces against coronavirus transmission.

Both companies have acquired COVID-19 testing tool kits and are implementing voluntary testing programs for employees.

HABCO, COVID-19 test, nasal swab
A HABCO employee with a COVID-19 test kit.

The $99 kits from MicroGenDX—a Texas-based molecular diagnostic lab—use saliva samples rather than nasal swabs and are approved by the Federal Drug Administration.

"There's a lot of misconceptions about testing out there that needs to be addressed," MicroGenDX New England account executive Dominic Cuozzo said.

"There's a whole private sector that people are leaving out of the equation."

Voluntary Testing

HABCO CEO Brian Montanari and The Gilman Brothers CEO John Uliano jumped on this private testing solution when they learned it was available.

"We doubled the amount of times our cleaning crew came in, but it didn't matter how much cleaning we would do, there was still that level of uncertainty," Montanari said. 

"It's worth the investment to allow everyone on site to get tested if they want to get tested."

HABCO's Brian Montanari

After partnering with a third party nurse practitioner, HABCO began administering the tests to their executive team on April 13 to test the process.

Soon after, every employee working on site at the Glastonbury aerospace manufacturer was given the opportunity to volunteer for a drive-through test at work.

"It's worth the investment to allow everyone on site to get tested if they want to get tested," Montanari said.

'Personally Responsible'

HABCO also has set of rules and procedures for employees, including mandatory temperature checks, strict sanitizing and cleaning protocols, and requirements for gloves and masks, which have been in place since March.

"We have taken every step possible to protect our employees and still meet demand," Montanari said.

Uliano, who employs 125 people at The Gilman Brothers in Bozrah, also feels the kits are an investment in employee well being and provide a sense of security. 

"I feel personally responsible for my employees and my employees' families."

The Gilman Brothers' John Uliano

"I feel personally responsible for my employees and my employees' families," Uliano said.

"I'd hate to put a dollar figure on the situation, but if you can get an answer in 24 hours, this test kit is certainly, most definitely, going to pay for itself," Uliano said.

"You're going to get your return on investment if you can have an employee out for five days instead of 14." 

Testing 'Critical'

According to Connecticut Bioscience Growth Council executive director Paul Pescatello, this kind of testing—including nasal swabs and FDA-approved saliva tests—is critical.

“COVID-19 testing is very important to tracking who has the disease and tracing back who they’ve had contact with," he says.

"Countries like Germany have been the most successful in containing the virus because of tracing and tracking technology.

"These kinds of tests help get our public health in order and our economy back on track.

"These kinds of tests help get our public health in order and our economy back on track."

Bioscience Growth Council's Paul Pescatello

"Any test like this is worthwhile."

MicroGenDX is working with businesses of varying sizes across a range of industry sectors, including electrical contractors, construction firms, and manufacturers.

"Whether you want to test your employees at home or you want to test them on site, it's very flexible," Cuozzo said.

"If your employees are home on furlough, and you want to make sure they’re not COVID positive before they come back, it's a good way to start back up."