Augusta University and Columbia County are offering coronavirus antibody testing to county employees


EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) — Who has had or have COVID-19? Has the virus been lingering during flu season? Those are questions health professionals are trying to answer.

“There is good evidence to suggest that this disease was in our community longer than we previously thought it was,” said Dr. Phillip Coule.

From Columbia County teachers to county government employees, Augusta University hopes testing for COVID-19 antibodies will shed light on the virus and how it has impacted this part of the CRSA.

“If it turns out this disease was present in our community much earlier than previously thought, but we didn’t have a lot of cases occurring that is severely impacted people, then perhaps we can get back to something that our previous normal was,” explained Dr. Coule.

AU Health’s Chief Medical Officer says the research study is an added piece of the puzzle in helping medical professionals figure out who develops antibodies and why. Columbia County leadership says they are glad to have employees step up to the plate to assist researchers in this fight.

“We wanted a good idea of a cross-section in our community that may have been exposed to this virus,” said Scott Johnson. “We thought the best way to do that is to test our first responders and people on the frontlines.”

The county administrator told NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson the data collected will be used in decision-making when it comes to local schools and other businesses.

“It’s a perfect partnership for them to gives us the data and information, as leaders to make good decisions,” said Scott Johnson.

Dr. Coule says his team has to understand the process of how the virus impacts the body, if there will be a low percentage of people who tested positive, and why some people didn’t develop antibodies if they had the virus.

“It’s all very complex,” explained Dr. Coule. “Understanding that will help us form decisions and the recommendations that we make.”

Dr. Coule told Devin, AU Health is not ready to release the numbers of folks tested yet. He says the study is in the beginning stages of collecting and analyzing testing data.

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