Three major community organizations announced a communitywide COVID-19 antibody testing program on Monday.
In a press conference, Mosaic Life Care, the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce and the Community Alliance announced the initiative.
Lee Sawyer, the Buchanan County presiding commissioner, told News-Press NOW that the county is funding the project at an estimated cost of $250,000.
The testing will start next week, according to officials. Those wishing to be tested must be a Buchanan County resident or work in the county. Those wishing to sign up for testing must do so online at MyMLC.com/testing. The website will go live starting on Tuesday, July 28. The antibody test will be conducted via a blood draw.
Sawyer said about 2,500 tests will be performed beginning Aug. 3 through 31. Mosaic officials asked that those with symptoms of COVID-19 not take an antibody test and instead to call their doctor.
An ID is needed to take the test, and a participant’s temperature will be taken. Testing will be conducted in the hospital’s respiratory clinic from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with a break in testing between noon and 1 p.m.
In related news, Mosaic officials said six people were hospitalized Monday with COVID-19, but none of them are in intensive care.
Dr. Scott Folk, a Mosaic specialist who handles infectious diseases, said just because someone tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies they aren’t necessarily immune to the virus. He said doctors don’t yet know how long antibodies last or what level of antibodies a person must have to fight off the virus.
“Forty percent who have (COVID-19) will have no symptoms, 40% will have mild symptoms, 15% will have symptoms severe enough to end up in the hospital and 5% will have symptoms so severe that they’ll end up in the ICU on a ventilator,” Folk said. “This is totally unprecedented. I mean, I’ve never lived through a pandemic before and so this is new territory for me as for everyone else in the country.”
He said Buchanan County was “nowhere near” herd immunity, which could stop the virus without a vaccine or therapeutic treatment. During the news conference, Folk said a recent study showed only 2.7% of people in Missouri given an antibody test showed traces of the virus.
“What worries me the most is the fact that people continue to still get infected and die on a daily basis,” Folk said.