Maricopa County Survey Could Identify Further Spread Of The Coronavirus

By Ben Giles, Steve Goldstein, Lauren Gilger
Published: Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - 6:25pm
Updated: Thursday, September 3, 2020 - 12:31pm

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A new study in Maricopa County could help determine how widespread COVID-19 is in the community, beyond those who’ve tested positive for the virus.

County health officials announced they’ll conduct a serosurvey of 29 neighborhoods in Maricopa County.

Residents in those communities will be asked to volunteer to give blood samples that will be tested for antibodies, which may indicate a past coronavirus infection.

Marcy Flanagan
Maricopa County
Marcy Flanagan.

“The information we get from the serosurvey will give us an idea of how many people at this point in time have antibodies to COVID-19 from being naturally infected and likely immune to getting it again,” said Marcy Flanagan, the county’s health director.

Similar surveys in other communities have found that the coronavirus has infected as many as 10 times the number of people known to have tested positive for the virus, Flangan said.

The data will also help determine who should be inoculated from the virus once a vaccine is available, she added.

“This will help us determine how many people need to get vaccinated in Maricopa County once a vaccine is available, and also relax strategies for social distancing and our mask recommendations,” she said.

The list of neighborhoods the county is targeting for volunteers was not immediately available, but Flanagan said those communities were chosen as a representative sample of Maricopa County.

The county needs roughly 500 volunteers from those neighborhoods for the survey to be effective.

Flanagan said county health officials will team up with volunteers from Arizona State University to go door-to-door in those communities from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20. Those workers will be prepared to take blood samples outside individuals' homes. 

Flanagan said identifying information linked to blood samples will be known only to county health officials. 

Samples, sans identifying information, will be sent to the Mayo Clinic for testing and destroyed once results are available. 

The Show spoke more with Flanagan about the specific aims of the project.

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