By Ashley Davis
GCAL Founder and President Don Palmieri gets a COVID-19 antibody test at the office. It’s part of the lab’s new protocol for protecting employees working on-site during the pandemic.
New York—The Gem Certification & Assurance Lab (GCAL) depends on having workers on-site, and the New York City-based laboratory has shared its plan for ensuring their safety for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lab has enlisted a doctor to test employees for COVID-19 via the nasal swab test every two weeks. The test is required to make sure any possible positive cases are immediately identified.

GCAL explained bringing a doctor to the premises is a solution they’re using in order to eliminate any added stress on employees.

“Since we have employees commuting from all five boroughs, Long Island, and New Jersey, plus our preference to have all our employees tested frequently, we didn’t want to put anyone at unnecessary risk,” GCAL COO Angelo Palmieri said in a press release.

“Essentially, we’d be asking them to find a doctor’s office, urgent care facility, etc., to then potentially stand in line for hours alongside others waiting for a test, some of whom might be infected. We felt compelled to reduce our exposure, while minimizing the network of people our staff must interact with.”

The move comes as New York City and surrounding areas continue to open, meaning more interactions among people, particularly as children go back to school.

“It is our hope that by sharing this with the industry, other companies will consider doing the same,” Founder and President Don Palmieri said. “Nothing is more important than the health and welfare of our GCAL colleagues, and of course their families.”

Additionally, the doctor will provide antibody tests via blood draw, which will be optional for employees. Results will be available 48 hours after testing, and according to GCAL’s contracted physician, the sooner results of blood exams are processed, the more accurate the results.

GCAL employees are fully covered for the tests under their 100-percent-employer-paid insurance policy.

The lab is working with Dr. Michele Martinho for the workplace testing.

Martinho recently addressed the lab at its first round of testing, encouraging the staff to follow best practices, like getting flu vaccinations early this flu season and attempting to bolster immunity through healthy diet and exercise.

She also answered staff questions and reiterated the general knowledge that wearing a mask to cover one’s nose and mouth, as well as some form of eye glasses or sunglasses to cover one’s eyes, plus to adhere to social distancing guidelines, is essential to staying safe.

GCAL originally shut down its Diamond District facilities on March 23 and continued to pay employees for a month before furloughing most of its employees while continuing to pay for 100 percent of their health benefits.

Select employees from the sales, marketing and IT departments started working remotely at that time, handling reprint requests, customer inquiries and lab support services.

“As a diamond, gemstone, and jewelry testing laboratory, the intricate work GCAL performs on high value gems and jewelry obviously cannot be done remotely or virtually,” Angelo said.

Per local government guidelines, the lab reopened to “surprising demand” on June 8 with a limited number of employees but quickly ramped back up to full operations.

While most New York City Diamond District companies are up and running, it’s not business as usual in the famed manufacturing area.

Don explained to National Jeweler, “The mood on the street depends in large part who you’re talking to. Most retailers seem to have ceased or seriously cut back on their buying, except of course for necessities. Many are nervous about the supply chain disruption, especially from India. But the June, July and August numbers at retail are certainly positive signs.

“As for what 47th Street looks like, it’s an interesting question. Lots of police presence is putting many of us at ease. Most businesses seem to be up and running, but of course some are closed. The crowds hanging around have all but gone away. Most, but not all are wearing masks, so that’s a good thing. Bottom line: it certainly looks different.”

Palmieri encouraged any company based in Manhattan interested in similar workplace testing services to contact Martinho at 212-420-6460 or through

TAGS:   Coronavirus
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