TTS Head Offers Update on COVID-19 Testing Situation

TTS Head Offers Update on COVID-19 Testing Situation

MIAMI — Sixto Pacheco, the principal of Talent Testing Service (TTS), held three Zoom meetings this week, open to all adult industry members, to clarify issues regarding COVID-19 testing through his network of laboratories.

The meetings, exclusively covered by XBIZ, were convened last week by Pacheco and scheduled for Monday, yesterday and today, with an open agenda but with a stated focus on the COVID-19 testing situation within the industry.

With a diverse group of participants including studio heads, production managers, agents, directors and talent, the meetings provided a glimpse into the current situation at TTS, several weeks after Pacheco made the decision to withdraw his labs from the PASS system.

'This Is Well Under Control'

Pacheco began all three meetings by sharing some average and state-by-state statistics of positive rates for COVID-19 tests for industry members who test at TTS, and also broken down by talent and crew categories.

Pacheco noted the numbers reflected tests from part of May, all of June and all of July, with an overall “quarter” column for all three months.

After discounting outlier stats from states like Wisconsin and Georgia (which accounted for only a handful of tests), Pacheco zeroed in on the California, Florida and Nevada numbers, which ranged from under 2% to slightly over 4%.

These figures were from a much larger number of samples than from other states. Pacheco said he could not disclose the actual figures, although he confirmed that the California tests were by far the largest number, followed by Nevada and then Florida.

“Compared to the country,” Pacheco said referring to the overall U.S. COVID-19 stats, “this is well under control.”

Pacheco also addressed issues with long lines at the Northridge, California facility, and questions about the turnaround of results.

The delays, he said, were partially due to “not having Vegas as a testing site for COVID and having to run all the tests in Florida.”

“We are running three shifts, seven days a week,” Pacheco said about the Florida operation.

After an initial learning phase, he explained, “everything is running very well now, we don’t see anything out of the ordinary.”

As for the lines, a TTS Northridge employee said that “we’ve gotten our rhythm, so people are not waiting the two hours like before.”

'We Are All Going to Get It'

Pacheco explained that testing really took off in July, since studios returned to production mode

“We haven’t seen any spikes in the last five or six weeks” he commented about the period, adding that it was still too early to obtain a baseline, or to properly identify spikes or clusters.

“People are getting tested so frequently in this program and you’re seeing a lot of negatives if you look at the percentages,” he added. “At this point, there’s nothing indicative of a spike.”

Asked by a European producer how often he would recommend testing for COVID-19 in markets outside of the U.S., the TTS head said that “that was a decision for every production house” to make, and ballparked "no more than five days" as a reasonable frequency between tests in his opinion.

“We’re just learning about this ‘mofo,’ which is what I call it,” Pacheco said about the virus.

Probed by an agent on the call about whether he might consider returning to the PASS system, Pacheco laughed and replied, “it’s not happening.”

“Like [XBIZ] quoted me,” he added, still jocular, “No más. We’ve been down that road before.”

Pacheco’s stance, which he has repeated since early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, is that “it’s not a question of if you’re gonna get it — it’s a question of when you’re gonna get it. Sooner or later we are all going to get it.”

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