NEW BRITAIN, CT — Gov. Ned Lamont moved up the second phase of Connecticut’s reopening to June 17, but Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz acknowledged Monday that employers still need to have confidence their workforce is healthy.
“Everyone is excited about the reopening and things are getting better, but people are getting lulled into a false sense of security,” Bysiewicz said. “So we really want to get this message out that it’s important to get tested.”
The state is trying to scale up to 100,000 tests per week.
AFC Urgent Care is trying to help make sure the state reaches those numbers.
AFC Urgent Care teamed up with Enzo in Farmingdale, New York, to perform an antibody test which is done with a blood draw. The serological tests are used to detect the presence of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Tom Kelly, president and owner of AFC Urgent Care, said they were approached by several modern day “snake oil salesmen” when it came to the antibody test. He said the Enzo test is very accurate and requires a full blood draw, not a finger prick.
AFC Urgent Care also does the PCR nasal swab test through Enzo, which has committed to provide them with the testing kits they need. Kelly said there is no cost for either of the tests.
Bysiewicz met with Kelly and Rep. Bill Petit and Sen. Gennaro Bizzarro outside the New Britain facility on East Main Street Monday morning.
Who should get what test?
Kelly said there are times when they perform both tests on a person, especially if they are nursing home workers or first responders who are most likely to be exposed to COVID-19.
Kelly said the nursing homes want to know which of their workers have it and whether they’ve had it in the past.
He said it takes 10 days from experiencing symptoms for a person to begin developing antibodies. So if someone is symptomatic, they typically recommend the PCR test.
However, Kelly said almost all of the nursing home staff that have tested positive have been asymptomatic.
Kelly said of the thousands of people they’ve tested, 23% have been positive for the virus across all seven of their facilities in Connecticut using the PCR test.
He said the latest universal data shows 80 to 84% of people have no symptoms.
He said about 20% of the antibody tests they’ve administered have come back positive.
He said there are a lot of people who come in and want the antibody test because they believe they had the virus in January or February. Kelly said patients come in and tell them they were negative for flu in January but were very sick with COVID-like symptoms and just want to know if they’ve had it.
“Right now there isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that if you have antibodies you will not become reinfected,” Kelly said.
Kelly said they only started offering the antibody testing three or four weeks ago.
Petit, a doctor, said it’s too soon to say whether having the antibodies will act to protect a person from contracting the virus again. Petit said no one really knows if they can reach a protective level of herd immunity by the fall. He said if they could reach 60 to 70% herd immunity by the fall and throw in a vaccine early next year that would be an optimal outcome.
Petit said they could see a spike in infections the second week of July “between the protests, the marches and the second reopening,” if everyone doesn’t continue to social distance and wear masks.
He said they will breathe a sigh of relief if that doesn’t happen.