Augusta U. partners with Albany/Dougherty, DCSS for COVID antibody testing

Augusta U. partners with Albany/Dougherty, DCSS for COVID antibody testing
Antibodies that people make to fight coronavirus infection last at least four months and do not fade quickly. (Source: AP Photo/Paul Sancya/AP)

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The City of Albany, Dougherty County and the Dougherty County School System (DCSS) are partnering with Augusta University Health to offer COVID-19 antibody testing to better understand the scope of the pandemic in the community.

Dougherty County, with about 98,000 residents, has seen over 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 180 deaths since March.

“I want to thank the City of Albany, Dougherty County School System and Augusta University for their partnership on this project,” said Chris Cohilas, Dougherty County Board of Commissioners chairman. “I’m extremely thankful for the expertise that Dr. Phillip Coule and the staff at Augusta University have provided for our region and want to encourage Dougherty County residents to take part in this testing that is crucial for our community.”

Testing will take place from Sept. 16-29 at the Albany Civic Center.
Testing will take place from Sept. 16-29 at the Albany Civic Center.

Antibody tests show whether a person’s immune system has responded to the infection but does not test for active infections. Those who have recovered from COVID-19 or were exposed to it may have antibodies in their blood that may help fight off future infections of the disease.

“Beyond the basic tenets of hand-washing, social distancing and wearing masks, we have learned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to controlling COVID-19 outbreaks,” Coule, who is vice president and chief medical officer for AU Health, said. “Antibody studies allow local communities to have more information about infection rates and to make decisions based on the results in their region.”

Dougherty County, with about 98,000 residents, has seen over 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 180 deaths since March.
Dougherty County, with about 98,000 residents, has seen over 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 180 deaths since March.

Testing will take place from Sept. 16-29 at the Albany Civic Center, 100 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. Space is limited and appointments are required. Pre-scheduled testing is available for DCSS employees by calling (706) 721-9740. Others should call (706) 721-4905 to schedule an appointment.

The test, which requires a blood draw, takes about 10 minutes, and participants will also be asked to complete a research survey. Results will be sent via Augusta University Health System’s Virtually Informed Patient (“VIP”) Portal.

“Representatives of Augusta University believe the testing will have profound implications for the state and the country, due to the large number of people here in Dougherty County who have been infected,” Bo Dorough, Albany mayor, said. “All citizens, including those who previously tested positive for COVID-19, are encouraged to make an appointment and participate in the community antibody testing.”

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