A couple from Telluride, Colorado, has taken it upon themselves to pay for all the residents in their town of 2,500 to be tested for the coronavirus, and eventually the entire county of 8,000 as well.
Part-time Telluride residents Mei Mei Hu and her husband, Lou Reese, pledged to have 15,000 testing kits available, hopefully in a matter of days, according to The Colorado Sun. The kits are being created through their own company, which is a United Biomedical Inc. subsidiary. The couple is paying for the kits out of their own pockets.
The Colorado Sun reported that the new test kit is a preliminary, FDA-approved blood test.
The couple is making it possible for all residents to be tested twice over the course of the next two weeks, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms of infection.
As of Friday, San Miguel County, where Telluride is located, had one official case of the coronavirus, the Sun reported. However, the county has had little to no testing available for its residents, with several citizens suffering from severe upper respiratory infections.
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Area hospitals are treating the patients with these upper respiratory infections with the same critical care as a coronavirus patient.
The Durango Herald reported that the 38 people who have already been tested, still haven’t received their results. As a result of that, officials still aren’t sure what to do.
“We are presuming we have disease,” spokesman Susan Lilly said. “We just don’t know how widespread it is.”
As a precautionary measure, the San Miguel County Public Health Department put its residents into a mandatory self-quarantine until mid-April. That is the state’s strictest measures taken so far.
In early March, the San Miguel Sheriff Department tweeted a way for the local residents to receive the latest coronavirus updates. Of note, at the time, there were no known cases in the area.
@SanMiguelCO new website for coronavirus info: https://t.co/UGj68jk0Zt Reps are coordinating with local, regional, state, & federal partners for efficient, effective, & comprehensive response regarding the potential spread of COVID-19. No known cases of coronavirus in our county. pic.twitter.com/AV8Pqz9pO3
— San Miguel Sheriff (@SheriffAlert) March 3, 2020
Hu and Reese are hoping to raise awareness and knowledge alongside those test kits.
“Data is power,” Hu said while talking to the Colorado Sun about their plan with the 15,000 test kits.
Hu and Reese are hopeful that the tests will be successful, and will be a bridge for other communities to do something similar for their residents.
More than anything, the couple is hopeful that the testing will bring awareness to the people in San Miguel County and Telluride.
They added that many people who are infected with the coronavirus sometimes show zero symptoms, and have no idea that they are ill.
“This will be one of the first times where we screen a whole population,” Hu said.
“What you do by testing en masse is you say, ‘What is active outbreak prevalence?’ If you’re positive on antibodies, that means you’ve been exposed to it at some time. If you test again in 14 days and you see that everyone is in the same state, it means that you didn’t have any new infections and you can then begin releasing people.”
“In the event that there’s a lot, then I think it really informs the public,” Reese said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.