For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., entire cities will be tested, regardless of whether someone is showing symptoms or not.
This test is part of a research project put together by the Marin County community at Bolinas and the University of California, San Francisco. Tents were set up next to the city’s fire brigade, and Monday morning volunteers and researchers will collect samples from all 1,600 residents of the community near Stinson Beach.
Project organizers want to find out how extensive COVID-19 is in the small town of Bolinas and how they can use that information to help other communities.
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“We are testing for both active viral infections, through nucleic acids, PCR tests and for antibodies to detect whether people have been previously exposed to the virus,” project organizer Cyrus Harmon said.
Harmon, a Bolinas resident, works in the pharmaceutical industry. He is one of three people who started the project about a month ago.
UCSF doctor Aenor Sawyer is also an organizer. He said that
the fact that Bolinas is a fairly remote community is beneficial for researchers.
“This is a very unique model in an ecosystem that is quite stable, rural and isolated,” Sawyer said. “And we are also paired with projects that take place in the Mission, to be another community, but in the center of the city.”
The researchers will take a nasal swab and a small amount
blood for both tests. The aim is to get each resident to participate.
“I’ve never heard of anyone who didn’t volunteer to be tested, to be honest with you,” said one resident.
Residents raise more than $ 300,000 to buy testing materials
and set the site. Organizer Jyri Engstrom said they hoped this could function as a
a template for other communities to follow.
“Really, you can see behind me only a group of tents and a group of people who are willing to take samples and bring them to the laboratory,” Engstrom said.