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Tennessee to begin antibody testing

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Posted at 10:09 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 00:03:40-04

NASVHILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey announced the state's plan for COVID-19 antibody testing.

Antibody testing can help reveal who has developed an immunity to COVID-19 and Piercey said during the governor's coronavirus briefing that the testing will begin in two phases.

First, the state says it plans to test 10,000 healthcare workers across the state. They also plan to send an alert to all clinical providers in the state this week to make sure they know the limits of antibody testing, and specific guidance on how to use the tests.

It's important to understand most antibody tests in clinical offices right now aren't approved and even those that have been approved haven't been widely sent out yet.

The state is warning that those unapproved tests can often give false positives, telling people they have antibodies that can fight COVID-19, when they really don't. That's because those unapproved tests may pick up on other, less serious types of coronavirus that are not COVID-19.

"There are lots of viruses in the coronavirus family. Many of these unapproved coronavirus tests will pickup on those and not COVID-19 and give you a false sense of security about your level of protection," explained Dr. Piercey.

Governor Lee also said later this week his office will be releasing guidance on how Gyms and Churches can open back up.

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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.

Prevention

The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.