Surveillance Testing in Miami-Dade Will Gauge How Far Coronavirus Has Spread

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Beginning Friday night, Miami-Dade County and University of Miami will begin calling 750 people each week for the next four weeks to randomly test people in the county. This "surveillance" testing will be used to gauge how far the coronavirus has spread.

The chosen will have to fill out a questionnaire provided by the school. Then, they'll be directed to one of ten locations in the county for a coronavirus test. The new testing will be a blood test, as opposed to the nasal swab tests common in drive-through testing locations. Results will be back the next business day. County Fire and Rescue crews will administer the tests. 

Random sample will consist of people with various ages, genders, and living locations around the county. 

County officials hope to get a better understanding about where the virus has spread so they can divert staff, testing, and other resources to areas that need to be addressed specifically. 

In a virtual press conference, county Mayor Carlos Gimenez, researcher Erin Kobetz and Alberto Caban-Martinez from the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine announced the SPARK-C Program, for Surveillance Program Assessing Risk and Knowledge of Coronavirus. 

Right now, most of the drive-thru testing locations are only testing the sick, old, and first responders. Those results could hide what is really happening on the ground because they are testing only a certain population. Health workers are only guessing currently where the virus is, who it infects, and what the longterm health impacts are. 

“The one factor that we don’t have, that hardly anybody has. What percentage of the population is actually infected and are there groups of them because all we are testing right now is people who are 65 and older," said Mayor Gimenez. "The more information that I have at my fingertips and the more information the researchers have, the better decisions that they’re going to make.”

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