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Update on Masks and Testing

Masks

The CDC finally announced today that everyone should wear a mask when outside. They recommended that people wear cloth or fabric face coverings which can be made at home when entering public spaces.


This is a good thing and a practical strategy.

News reports emphasized that this is to prevent those people who have the virus and might not know it from spreading the infection to others. 

However, in our opinion the most important effect is the psychological effect of wearing a mask – it keeps the user and everyone else aware that we have to do our part to prevent the spread of disease. Experience in multiple countries is showing that when the population all wear masks the disease is spread slower. Our observation in South Florida is that less than 50% of the population were wearing masks. The wearing of masks will enforce other strategies further.

The prior recommendations to not wear masks, we believe was primarily based on a concern of affecting the supply of hospital grade masks for health care workers. This is a practical solution. Healthcare workers need the protection first.

Just keep in mind that a homemade mask does not provide full protection. But something is most assuredly better than nothing.

Testing

We are awaiting the availability of widespread IgG and IgM testing of the virus.

There have been a couple of stops and starts on FDA approval of testing. On Tuesday, it spread on social media that Bodysphere had received FDA approval for its test which turned out not to be the case. On Thursday, there was a valid announcement by Cellex,  a company in the Research Triangle North Carolina on the FDA approval of their test for emergency use.

What you should know right now is that the antibody tests are different than the current PCR tests which tell us if someone is actively infected. What the IgG and IgM tests tell us the degree of a patient’s antibody response. IgM antibody indicates that it is a current infection; IgG infection importantly indicates the presence of immunity in the person.

The spread of antibody tests will be a gamechanger. When we can tell that patients are immune and when health care workers are immune, it will provide a significant step up in our ability to manage the infection in a more targeted way.

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