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COVID Study: Howard County Safety Precautions Are Protecting First Responders From Coronavirus

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) -- Howard County government is taking a data-driven approach as they look to see what has been working to protect first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Right now, they're focusing on a blood test to check for COVID-19 antibodies.

Data, research, guidance and hopefully answers to the coronavirus crisis lie within human blood.

"Someone who has antibodies, at this point, means they've had an immune response to the virus," said Dr. Matthew levy, Howard County Fire & Rescue Medical Director.

A new study in Howard County is using serology tests to see whether or not their protective protocols are working and keeping first responders safe.


"Antibody or serology tests measure immune factors present after infection," said County Executive Calvin Ball.

Over a three week period more than 500 first responders volunteered to be confidentially tested for antibodies. The results are in and less than 2% of the people tested have contracted covid-19, many don't have the antibodies developed from fighting the virus.

"Our policies and procedures we had put in place during this pandemic are working and helping to keep our emergency responders safe," Howard County Fire Chief William Anuszewski said.

It's a closer look at what works and as Ball said "can expand upon how covid-19 spreads in our community and puts us in a better position to make informed decisions moving forward."

This county is one of the only areas in the country doing a study like this, thanks to a joint effort with the Howard County-based Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

"Studies like this which help us understand disease spread are one of our most powerful tools," said Sheri Lewis of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

Next, Howard County is working to open serology testing to their 3,000 county employees.

The county hopes to eventually receive federal funding so they can open up serology testing to residents in 2021.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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