LIMA — State health officials are hoping that more than 1,200 Ohio residents agree to take part in random, voluntary COVID-19 testing project as part of a study to determine how many people in Ohio currently have the virus and how many were previously infected.
The initiative, jointly coordinated and funded by the Ohio Department of Health and The Ohio State University, started Sunday. According to information from the Allen County Health Department the testing was to run through Tuesday, although a county official said Monday she is uncertain of the end date.
Tami Gough, public information officer for the locally health department, said she is not aware how many of the participants will be from Allen and surround counties as data associated with participation in the program has not yet been shared by the state health department.
Gough said the goal is to test 1,200 adults statewide. More than 12,000 postcards were mailed randomly to Ohio residents earlier this month with the goal of finding 1,200 adults to volunteer for participation in the study.
Individuals who received a postcard also got a follow-up letter before to the testing teams came to Allen County. Persons who did not wish to participate in the study were provided with a telephone number they could call to opt out. Despite that provision, however, Gough said she has seen accounts on social media of local residents turning away program testing teams who knocked on their doors.
When the team visits a home that has been selected and notified, one adult in the household is tested by providing both a blood specimen and a nasal swab sample. The test participant will also be asked questions about their health for research purposes.
If the selected adult tests positive for active COVID-19 by the nasal swab test, the health department will notify that person, typically within four days. If the person tests negative for active COVID-19, the result will be shared with the adult within two weeks. The results of the blood tests will be shared within two weeks whether or not they show antibodies.
Members of the teams are not members of the Allen County Health Department, Gough said.