The Monument Health lab team will conduct antibody testing for interested Pennington County and Rapid City employees beginning this week.
“It’s been suggested many of us have already been exposed to COVID-19, but don’t know it because we didn’t have symptoms,” said Pennington County Commission Chair Deb Hadcock. “The antibody test will allow us to know if the disease has already been circulating in our community. This will be an interesting snapshot from a group that has continued working throughout the pandemic.”
Called the SARS-CoV-2 IgG Antibody test, the blood test is designed to detect antibodies created by the body’s immune system to fight the COVID-19 infection. It is not a test to determine an active infection. A positive result may suggest that the patient might be less likely to get infected in the future. However, researchers still don’t understand the body’s immune response to COVID-19. Antibody testing is not a replacement for social distancing. As many as 80 percent of the people who contract COVID-19 experience mild symptoms or no symptoms.
“The antibody testing can serve as an effective and useful tool and barometer for determining the extent of COVID exposure in our community,” said Mayor Steve Allender. “The testing of City employees can determine the role our workers may provide moving forward in assisting Monument Health, Vitalant and other providers during this pandemic – through plasma donation, education and other community efforts.”
Those with the antibody in their blood could be good plasma donors to help hospital patients severely affected by COVID-19. Monument Health is participating with Mayo Clinic and other health care systems in a research project to determine if blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients could be an effective treatment for hospital patients with severe infections.
“Monument Health is happy to help the city and county employees with this department-wide project,” said Michelle Stephens, Monument Health Vice President of Operations for the Rapid City Market. Deputies, police officers, correctional officers and other staff regularly come in close contact with the public. “Knowing the extent of COVID-19 exposure among the teams will help law enforcement and local government serve the public during the pandemic,” she added.