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Antibody test used in rapid testing for Lake County teachers, students

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Matt Cady with Adult Medicine of Lake County answered School Board questions about the Healgen rapid antibody test. Image: LCPS

Lake County Public Schools started a massive coronavirus testing program Monday using rapid antibody tests from Healgen.

The blood tests appear to be used for a diagnostic purpose – which is at odds with recommendations from the FDA, CDC and Health Department.

Adult Medicine of Lake County tested nearly 2,000 teachers and found about 20 may have the coronavirus. They’ll be retested.

The school board also plans to test any student who wants it before school starts later this month. And the district has a new protocol where kids testing negative can return to class three days after possible exposure.

The rapid tests get around the long wait for lab results and make widespread testing workable. Matt Cady of Adult Medicine says the viral tests that go to a lab can take 21 days.

“We would be in absolute gridlock if we tried to PRC-test your whole, not only your teacher population but your student population,” he said.

These tests aren’t the rapid antigen tests used in nursing homes.

Board chair Kristi Burns called the approach cutting edge – but questioned whether a key antibody could be found early in the infection.

“I think it might take a week or more for the IgM that we’re testing for to actually be in the body,” she said. “Once it’s there, this test will find it. But will this test find it on day three?”

Health officials don’t recommend antibody tests for diagnosing COVID-19 as the immune response takes time to develop.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.