Antibody testing, plasma program still a ways out for Barton |

Antibody testing, plasma program still a ways out for Barton

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — In a press conference Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out his plan to ease his stay-at-home order. Part of his plan is dependent on widespread COVID-19 testing.

In order to ease restrictions, the number of people testing positive should drop and new hospitalizations should fall, said Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco. Nursing homes, jails and homeless shelters should screen aggressively for the virus and isolate the infectious together.

People might be able to return to work sooner after testing negative for the virus or testing positive for the antibodies to the virus, which would indicate they were previously infected and are likely immune. Workers in more sensitive occupations could be required to pass both tests, Rutherford said.

However, antibody testing is still a ways off from being widely available.

Scientists across the country are also looking into plasma infusions as a possible cure. Plasma from people who have recovered from coronavirus could be infused into patients fighting the virus to help them recover.

While both antibody testing and plasma infusions seem promising, they aren’t yet options offered at Barton Health.

“Barton Health continues to work with state and regional partners to effectively respond to COVID-19,” said Barton Health Director of Public Relations Mindi Befu. “Testing, resources and treatments are a few of the areas of focus, although it is still too early to launch programs within our community.

“State officials and regional health systems are developing a plasma program to benefit California communities; UC Davis Health is working on therapies for COVID patients through clinical trials that could help our community through our partnership with UC Davis Health; Renown and Barton are in discussions on steps to bring antibody testing to the region,” Befu added.

Still, Befu reminds the community those programs could still take a while to implement, so in the meantime, continuing to social distance remains key to the health of the community.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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