Could expanded testing bring life back to normal, sooner?

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

When will the school and business closures and stay-at-home orders end? It’s a question weighing heavily on David Mastrangelo, a violinist for the Naples Philharmonic.

Mastrangelo has been effectively off the job since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the United States put an end to large gatherings and the Naples Phil had to suspend its season.

As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, he said it’s getting difficult to not know what is coming next.

“We know there are tens of millions of people in this country that suffer with mental illness and what is the toll on those people to say, you can’t leave, you got to sit in your house,” he said.

In China, it took 66 days from when the government shut down the area surrounding Wuhan until things started to reopen.

Dr. Bindu Mayi, a microbiologist who teaches infectious disease control at Nova Southeastern University, said we can’t look to China for guidance on how long before life gets back to normal in the United States.

“They were able to lock down Wuhan and have all the population get behind that. And we have certainly seen how tricky it has been for us here to get all the states to lockdown,” she said.

She said looking to how Taiwan handled the pandemic could give us a more balanced approach.

“They did aggressive screening, they did testing, and they did aggressive contact tracing, All of those measures worked for them,” she said.

Those proactive measures, along with a much more obedient culture, could have been what allowed Taiwan to avoid drastic measures like shutting down schools.

Mayi said widespread antibody testing to see who in the population of the United States has already contracted the virus and recovered without knowing could allow a large number of people to return to life as normal.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS News anchor Gayle King that antibody testing in the United States would be the next step to fighting the pandemic.

“We’re going to be instituting tests that can show how many people in the population have been infected,” he said.

It could be several weeks before that testing begins.

Mayi said a unified approach to social distancing across the country is critical right now until large scale testing can get underway.

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