If you have a fear of getting stuck, it might not be a good time to be in Telluride or San Miguel County. Not only are residents here under a “shelter in place” quarantine, they are also in ground zero for a unique COVID-19 blood testing trial. We’re already stuck in place, and soon every county resident (every willing county resident) will have blood drawn with a needle.
It’s not as bad as it sounds. There are worse places to be stuck, honestly, and the blood tests are a novel approach to containment of the virus. Basically the tests, which will ideally be repeated in a couple weeks, are serological antibody tests to identify asymptomatic patients and those who have already been infected and then recovered, and to provide a more accurate assessment of prevalence of infection and fatality rate. If you have the virus, or had the virus, the tests will be able to tell you with 100% accuracy. The hope is that this mass testing will help us isolate people who are infected and contain the spread, and also provide a model for other communities.
An initial round of testing took place today (March 19) for emergency service providers and their families, so that they can be cleared to do the work ahead. The mass testing, which is limited to San Miguel County residents only and not visitors, will start sometime next week. More details on how that will be conducted will follow soon. Officials expect to have results from these tests in about two days.
Thus far, testing resources in the U.S. and in San Miguel County have been extremely limited. This current effort is thanks to the generosity of a local couple, Mei Mei Hu and Lou Reese, who lead c19, a subsidiary of United Biomedical Inc. They recognized that the remote nature of the community here and its epidemiological factors presented an opportunity to use and model the testing techniques. Hu and Reese were interviewed by our media colleagues at KOTO, and you can listen to it here.
The blood tests are not mandatory, but all residents are urged to take part. Telluride Publishing will continue to provide updates about how and where the testing will take place when information is available. In the meantime, stay home and stay healthy.