NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Even with the numbers, no one knows just how many people have been infected with COVID-19.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a test could change that, and determine how many people could be immune, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Monday.
Once bustling corridors are now at a standstill. Signs on storefronts signal the uncertainty. Behind each locked door, an upheaval of lives desperate for a mere semblance of normalcy.
“The question of reopening, which everyone wants to do and everybody wants to do yesterday, and I am at the top of that list,” Cuomo said.
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The governor said providing wide-scale antibody testing is central to getting people back to work. The test will determine who has recovered from coronavirus.
“We have to be patient. I think that’s the main thing. And at the time we’re being patient, the laboratories will catch up,” said Dr. David Reich, the president of Mount Sinai Hospital.
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Mount Sinai’s researchers were among the first in the country to create an antibody test that not only determines prior infection, but how much of the disease-fighting proteins a person has.
The test is now awaiting FDA approval and has been shared with state and commercial labs as they, too, come up with a means to test millions of people.
City and state leaders do not have a timeline about when that can happen.
Dr. Jennifer Rakeman is the assistant commissioner of the New York City Public Health Laboratory.
“The challenge there will be sort of balancing getting lots of people tested with also not overwhelming our healthcare system and not putting people at risk for getting infected,” Rakeman said.
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It’s a healthcare system that is already stretched to its limit, despite evidence of the number of hospitalizations stabilizing.
For now, testing of front-line workers is being prioritized, along with former patients who can help doctors understand the disease and better treat those who are currently ill.
“There is no guarantee that just because someone has had COVID and has antibodies to COVID that they couldn’t be reinfected by COVID,” Reich said.
With more to learn about the virus, slowly re-opening the economy is still weeks away.