COVID-19 antibody tests available to all Lucas Co. first responders

Published: May. 26, 2020 at 5:59 PM EDT
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First responders in Toledo and Lucas County will now have access to antibody testing for COVID-19, provided by Toledo, Lucas County, and Mercy Health.

Toledo Fire Chief Brian Byrd says his crews are in some of the riskiest settings for COVID-19 exposure, so he welcomes the antibody testing for his crews who want it.

“There are all these unknowns, are people symptomatic, asymptomatic, did they test positive, did they not test positive were they sick at all,” Byrd said.

And Byrd says there can be several unknown exposures during one shift.

“They're being exposed perhaps numerous times in a 24-hour shift," he said. "Now we provide them with PPE, but then they're concerned with taking it home to their families.”

That’s why the antibody testing for COVID-19 is being provided. Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski says the partnership that is providing the testing will help the health department get a handle on who has and who has not been exposed to COVID.

“They're testing to see if you've had the disease itself, not that you're infectious, but if you've had the disease itself,” he said.

Here’s the catch -- it’s unknown if people who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies are protected from getting the virus in the future, Mercy Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Kevin Casey says.

“We have reasons to suspect there might be," Casey said. "The other corona viruses like MERS and SARS, there was some immunity conveyed with it. We just don't have enough information yet to make a definitive statement and to risk people's lives on that belief at this time.”

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