Maricopa County launching COVID-19 antibody survey to understand spread

Sep 3, 2020, 4:15 AM
(Pexels Photo/Karolina Grabowska)...
(Pexels Photo/Karolina Grabowska)
(Pexels Photo/Karolina Grabowska)

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Department of Public Health announced on Wednesday that it is launching a project to see how many county residents have been infected with COVID-19 beyond those that have already tested positive.

“We know that especially early on in the pandemic, not everyone who was infected was tested. We also know that around 40% of people infected with COVID-19 never develop symptoms and may not be included in our case counts,” MCDPH executive director Marcy Flanagan said in a press release.

“By conducting this serosurvey, we will have a better estimate of how many people throughout our county have the antibodies to COVID-19 and how many people need to be vaccinated to reach community immunity.”

The “serosurvey” — through a partnership with Arizona State University and the Mayo Clinic — will collect samples from 29 communities across the county in order to estimate how many people currently have coronavirus antibodies.

The communities were chosen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to target neighborhoods that would represent all of Maricopa County.

Residents of the aforementioned communities will receive a door hanger next week that will notify them of their eligibility for the project.

“Our goal is that 500 individuals or 210 households participate,” Flanagan told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “Anyone age six and up can participate in the serosurvey.”

Maricopa County health department and ASU volunteers will then go door-to-door in teams of two within those communities between Sept. 12-20 to invite residents to participate in the free antibody testing.

“During that time, the field teams with public health and ASU volunteers will have official shirts and badges to identify themselves as public health or ASU,” Flanagan said.

Residents that wish to participate will answer questions about their health and previous exposures to COVID-19 outside of their home or at a mobile clinic. Volunteers will not ask to enter any residents’ homes and will be wearing personal protective equipment in addition to following safety protocols.

A sample will then be collected and tested for coronavirus antibodies by the Mayo Clinic, with results being given via phone within 7-14 days.

“This investigation will provide public health with really important information to help us understand when we can recommend relaxing social distancing and other strategies like mask requirements,” Flanagan said.

For those interested in learning more about Maricopa County’s COVID-19 serosurvey, more information can be found online.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore contributed to this story.

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Maricopa County launching COVID-19 antibody survey to understand spread