If you live in Fulton or DeKalb counties, you may be visited soon by a public health professional asking survey questions and taking a blood sample to see if you have been infected by coronavirus. The blood sample is an antibody test and the purpose is to try to understand how many people in Georgia may have been infected by COVID-19.
The Georgia Department of Public Health is partnering with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Fulton and DeKalb County Boards of Health to conduct the antibody testing survey.
Between April 28 and May 4, teams of public health professionals will visit randomly selected homes in different areas of Fulton and DeKalb counties. Household members will be asked to answer survey questions and provide a blood sample to be tested for antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies are produced when someone has previously been infected with COVID-19.
“We encourage everyone who is visited by the teams to participate in this very important survey that can help public health officials assess how widespread COVID-19 is in certain areas,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., Department of Public Health commissioner. “This is another way that Georgians can play a role in helping fight this virus.”
If someone tests positive for the antibodies, it doesn’t mean they are out of the woods for symptoms of COVID-19. Antibody tests, also known as serology tests because they look at blood “serum,” cannot determine if a person has an active COVID-19 infection at the time the sample is taken.
The antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 typically take one to three weeks to develop. The antibody test can help identify people who were infected but didn’t have symptoms or weren’t tested for COVID-19. This testing is important to understand who has had the virus. The results of this study may help provide important information needed to help public health officials understand COVID-19 and inform future strategies to prevent further spread of the virus.
Fulton and DeKalb counties were selected because community transmission of confirmed COVID-19 cases is occurring in these counties. The areas that teams will visit within each county are census blocks, used by the U.S. Census Bureau, and were randomly selected. Households will be randomly selected within each area. Only homes approached by the investigation teams are eligible to participate. Participation is voluntary. Teams will be identifiable by their CDC vests and CDC badges. They will also have an official letter from CDC and the GA Department of Public Health.
For more information about the serosurvey, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-antibody-testing
For general information about antibody testing, also known as serology testing, visit the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/serology-testing.html