What you need to know about testing under the new system

It’s almost time to return to shooting and the FSC has officially released guidelines.

The long and short of it is that you have to be tested for Covid-19 (including your 14 day STD test).

All talent and crew must have a Covid-19 test (the PCR one not the antibody one). You must have taken the test 24-48 hours prior to the shoot and self-isolate after taking the test until you arrive on set.

Now to shoot again, you have to take another test, 24 hours before that shoot, and again self-isolate from the time you take the test until you arrive on set.

What you need to know about testing under the new system

Yes, this is a lot of testing so what are we talking about cost-wise?

Talent Testing is offering a special deal. If you go to the them for a normal performer STD test, the cost will be $190 and will now include besides all the other normal tests, a Covid-19 test. This test will allow you to re-test several more times (without cost according to TTS) over the next 14 days. This basically means you now just have an additional $35 added to your standard testing cost.

CET however is going another route. In addition to your normal performer testing costs, they will charge you $110 per Covid-19 test.

Yes that means an additional $110 every time you want to shoot for your Covid1- test. They say, “We are offering it now and the turnaround will be 24 hrs. And we’ll charge about $110, because our government-regulated cost is $100. CET is not a laboratory, CET has to contract with a laboratory. All the laboratory are mandated to charge $100.”

CET claims their test is the only FDA approved test. That’s why they have to charge so much more. But that isn’t exactly true.

According to our source at the FSCm “TTS does have emergency use authorization (EUA) for its COVID-19 test. This means the test has been validated by the lab, and the evidence for its efficacy has been presented to the FDA and they have agreed it meets the standards for emergency use during this public health crisis. This is different from typical FDA approval, which is a different (and more rigorous) process, but it does not necessarily mean the test is less safe.”

Do I have to agree to take a Covid-19 test?

I think every director will have his or her own rules for that but I can’t imagine any director willing to take on the financial liability that comes with Covid-19 if a person on their set refused to test. In addition, I hear that you don’t get a choice if purchasing the performer panel at TTS. If you want to get your 14 STD test, that includes the Covid-19 test. Period. But then again that’s a good thing. We need to make sure that we aren’t a carrier even if we don’t have symptoms. We don’t want to pass it along to other performers.

How will this work with PASS?

This is where things get a little more complicated. PASS is now updated with a new feature showing if a person has or has not taken their Covid-19 test. This is good however I’m also hearing that for now at least, TTS will not be reporting the results of their Covid-19 tests to the PASS system.

If you do not have a COVID-19 test will the pass results still say cleared for work?

The FSC says that clearance to work in PASS is based on your PASS Panel of STI tests, not the COVID-19 test. If you take the PASS Panel and clear, but do not take a COVID-19 test, PASS will show that you are cleared to have sex on set.

In closing, I want to leave you with the inspiring words of Michelle LeBlanc, the current head of the Free Speech Coalition.

We are living through a singular moment in history. Circumstances have converged that are leading to the dismantling of old systems. We are seeing it with systemic structures of racism and misogyny. We are seeing it in our industry and throughout the world.

This is a time to start fresh on so many levels. Instead of looking back to the way things were three months ago and trying everything we can to bend and twist this new reality to look like that one, let’s start from where we are and build something new. 

Every part of the new system won’t be great to begin with. Things will still need to change, but let’s change what we can now, in the moment and every moment going forward That means we need to rethink how production happens from a fundamental level so that we keep ourselves and each other healthy and safe.

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