California Coronavirus Tiered Testing

California isn’t in good shape right now when it comes to coronavirus. Not only are cases on the rise, but California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Gahly has been addressing complaints about a lack of test availability and a slow turnaround for getting test results. In order to remedy the situation, California is dividing patients into tiers in order to prioritize testing, but that means Hollywood productions, which would need to test the cast and crew upon restarting and during film and TV production, may end up being delayed even more.

Hollywood hasn’t yet returned to work just yet, but any productions that are hoping to start in the near future could be impacted by the new tiered guidelines for coronavirus testing. Here’s an abridged version of the guidelines from Deadline:

  • Tier 1: Hospitalized individuals with COVID-19 symptoms. Tests involving the investigation and management of outbreaks. Close contacts of confirmed cases.
  • Tier 2: All other individuals with COVID-19 symptoms. Or individuals who are asymptomatic but who live or work in higher risk congregate care facilities, work in the healthcare sector, work in the emergency services sector, or patients requiring pre-operative/pre-hospital admission or who are being discharged to a lower care facility.
  • Tier 3: Individuals who work in the retail or manufacturing sectors, those who work in the food services sector, individuals who work in the agricultural or food manufacturing sector, individuals who work in the public transportation sector, and individuals who work in the education sector.
  • Tier 4: Would be implemented when the state’s testing turnaround time, as monitored by California Department of Public Health, is less than 48 hours. Includes individuals not specified above and those who are asymptomatic but believe they have a risk for being actively infected. Also includes routine testing by employers.

Obviously, film and TV productions don’t fit into Tier 1 or Tier 2, so at best, they’d be classified into Tier 3. It seems odd to lump them in with manufacturing, but they are manufacturing the product of entertainment, so I suppose it makes sense. If not, they’d end up in Tier 4 with everyone else. It’s not clear how the tiers define the wait to be tested for coronavirus, but if there are complaints about a lack of availability, testing those who don’t have symptoms won’t be a priority.

If these guidelines remain in place, that could be a problem for Hollywood once production restarts. Under the new safety protocol guidelines, all cast and crew for movies and TV shows would need to be tested on the first day of production. After that, actors and anyone they come into contact with would be tested at least three times a week. Plus, members of the production office would be tested once a week. Everyone else on set would be divided into zones and would be tested based on their potential exposure. That’s a lot of testing, which is exactly what public health official seem to be trying to avoid.

Simply put: California isn’t in any condition to resume film and TV production. In fact, California just closed movie theaters and various other recreational businesses again, so this isn’t an immediate concern for the time being. Once production is clear to resume, testing will be integral to running safe film sets, so even when California is in better shape, their coronavirus woes won’t be over just yet. You can get a full rundown of the new California coronavirus tiered testing guidelines at the California Department of Public Health.

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