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Widespread COVID-19 immunity testing delayed in San Miguel County

Coronavirus
Posted at 4:31 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 18:38:08-04

Update (4 p.m. Thursday): San Miguel County officials say a second round of COVID-19 immunity testing resume as planned. While the county previously said test processing at United Biomedical had been "compromised," officials said that statement was "unintentionally misleading" and apologized for the confusion.

Nearly 6,000 people in San Miguel County were tested during the first round in March, but only 1,600 of the tests have been processed due to delays at the United Biomedical Lab in New York. The blood test was an antibody test, which helps determines a person's immunity to COVID-19. The goal was to have the same people tested again about two weeks later, to determine if the infection rate in the county was increasing or decreasing, but the county will hold off on a second round of testing because of the initial delays.

United Biomedical was experiencing delays because the test processing has been compromised, due to a lack of staffing and personal protection equipment. The company had offered the test and processing to the county for free, but the county still incurred tens of thousands of dollars in expenses in manpower and supplies to carry out the first round of testing. United Biomedical was working with the county to cover as much, if not all, of those costs, the county said.

“This pandemic has created unprecedented strains on whole systems, from PPE, to tests, to healthcare staff, and this lab is a part of that crunch,” Dr. Sharon Grundy, San Miguel County Medical Officer said. “They are experiencing a bottleneck in their capacity to adequately process lab result in a reasonable amount of time.”

UBI told the county it plans to begin processing the remaining tests Thursday or Friday.

San Miguel County, where 10 cases of coronavirus have been identified, was the first county in the country to offer the blood test to every resident. County officials plan to still receive the remaining first round of tests, though they could be weeks late.

“The data will provide us with a better understanding of the prevalence of the virus in our community and how those who were exposed to COVID-19 faired," Grundy said.

“The data will provide us with a better understanding of the prevalence of the virus in our community and how those who were exposed to COVID-19 faired," Grundy said.