Howard Announces Comprehensive Serology Testing Strategy

Photo Courtesy: Howard County Government

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced Howard County’s comprehensive strategy to better understand the scope of COVID-19 spread among county residents through serology testing.

County Executive Ball explained the multi-pronged approach to introduce serology testing including 1) participating in the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) serology study for first responders, including police, fire and rescue services, corrections, and sheriff personnel, 2) serology testing for all County employees , and 3) a partnership with Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL) to develop and implement a serology testing plan for the Howard County population.

From the press release:

“Serology or antibody testing can provide a glimpse into the extent of COVID-19 infections in the recent-past and are critical to understanding the true prevalence of the virus in communities like ours,” said Ball. “Our bold serology strategy is three-pronged, first by testing our first responders, then extending that opportunity to all County employees, and ultimately developing a plan to offer serology tests for all our residents. We are one of few jurisdictions in the nation working towards a wide-spread population study, which will be especially useful to compare antibodies at the population level once vaccines are widely available. Our approach has always been data-driven and people-informed, and we will continue to search for innovative and efficient ways to mitigate the spread of this virus and ensure our community is safe and healthy.”

While diagnostic tests measure presence of COVID-19 typically in individuals who may be currently symptomatic, serology or antibody tests measure immune factors present after infection. Serology testing can be especially useful given evidence that many individuals who acquire the virus have mild or no symptoms, and so may not seek a COVID-19 diagnostic test or be accounted for through a healthcare encounter.

As a part of the MDH serology study, more than 500 Howard County first responders were tested. This group was selected based on the high risk to exposure to COVID-19 due to work environment and job duties.

See full press release.

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