When the country is considering allowing businesses to reopen, it is focusing on strong testing as a way to keep corona virus infections low.
But there are many things you can learn from testing the data, apart from anyone who suffers from the disease. State researchers are trying to understand where it is; what symptoms do people have; and how to prepare for an outbreak in the future.
To stop the spread of the corona virus, public health workers must first know who owns it.
But there are obstacles. Chief of State Health Officer Dr. Anne Zink recently marked a variety of things that limit testing.
“These are swabs,” he said. “Having a doctor think about doing it. There is a place to do it. That ensures there are no obstacles to do it. This is a viral medium. This is transportation. This is the machine for doing it. That’s a reagent. It is a small plastic part of a reagent machine. “
The country has made progress in some of the things he listed. It was added by trained staff in the state laboratory. Converted laboratory equipment will be used for testing. More and more supplies, including asking Palmer manufacturers to make swabs.
All of this has allowed the state to increase the number of Alaska tested and expand definition who should be tested – basically, anyone who has viral symptoms.
Experts nationally and in Alaska are different estimate about how many tests to do – some numbers are much higher than what the country does. Zink said he had told Governor Mike Dunleavy that the state would benefit from 2.5 million to 3 million tests over four to six months.
At this point, Zink basically refused to put a number on it.
“We don’t have a set goal,” he said. “Our goal is to take care of Alaskan health, and we will test whatever we need to do to get there.”
The number of tests reported from Alaska has increased every week, reaching more than 4,000 weeks starting April 19. Zink said the state laboratory could handle more than 7,000.
“The aim is to really make sure we test widely and widely in all populations and in all regions of our state,” he said.
There are three types of places where testing takes place: state laboratories in Anchorage and Fairbanks; commercial laboratory under 48; and hospitals and clinics. State and commercial laboratories have increased their capacity and speed in recent weeks, while hospitals and clinics have been online as new sources for testing.
Starting this week, all public health care clinics will start offering free tests. The state has made an agreement with Fred Meyer and Carrs to start offering tests in tents outside their stores. And it aims to send more test equipment to rural areas.
At present, Alaska has lowest level positive test of any circumstance. It doesn’t rank high in the number of tests per population – this is the 11th.
“Here in Alaska, we are fortunate, so far, with a relatively very low number of positive COVIDs, and even fewer deaths,” Dr. Bernd Jilly, who directs the state’s public health laboratory. “So it’s very good.”
Jilly said testing would be very important to answer the basic questions that scientists are still fighting for.
“I think this is very important, because we have never done this,” he said. “And because this is a new disease, we don’t know how it goes.”
Jilly points out that we don’t know how long COVID-19 patients maintain immunity after they recover, or even if the disease can return after hiding in the body, such as shingles and herpes.
“We don’t know, so the more testing we can do, the more people can get a good picture of this,” Jilly said. “And the problem is, if we can catch people early in their disease course, we can confiscate them, limit their interactions with vulnerable people and, you know, keep as much as we can.”
Jilly sees the potential in using blood tests in the coming months to get a better understanding of what parts of the population have been infected with the virus.
“That is a big question test and study done, usually after the fact, so we can be better prepared for the next time that happens,” he said.
For example, if there is another increase in the case in the fall, tests carried out by the country now will enable it to find out more.
Blood tests do not help diagnose patients. And there are problems found with the accuracy of several blood tests that are being marketed.
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