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Coronavirus COVID-19 Local News

County Reports Three New COVID-19 Cases, Announces Antibody Testing

Image courtesy of Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL), a Sonic Healthcare Company.

Comal County reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, May 1 and said in a press release it will begin antibody testing through a third-party lab on Monday.

Two of the residents are hospitalized and a third is self-isolating. The individuals are in their 20s, 50s and 60s and live in New Braunfels, Bulverde and eastern Comal County.

There are now 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. With six deaths, the county now has 13 active cases, of which four are hospitalized with the rest isolating at home.

In addition, the county confirmed the recovery of three patients, including one who had been hospitalized, bringing the total to 39. With six deaths, the county has 13 active cases, of which four are hospitalized with the rest isolating at home.

Antibody testing

The Comal County Office of Public Health (OPH) has partnered with Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL), a Sonic Healthcare Company, to conduct COVID-19 antibody testing by appointment, the county said in its press release. Tests will be conducted at the Office of Public Health, 1297 Church Hill Dr, New Braunfels.

CPL personnel will draw blood.

The antibody test can determine whether a currently healthy person had contracted coronavirus in the past and now has the antibodies that usually confer immunity from a disease, although research into coronavirus immunity remains ongoing.

“This is a win-win partnership between the county and CPL,” Cheryl Fraser, the county’s director of Public Health, was quoted as saying in today’s press release.  “CPL can use our facilities to do the testing, and in return the county gets additional data about the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

Speaking at Commissioners Court on Thursday, she said antibody testing is an opportunity for the county to learn how COVID-19 affected the community.

“As you know, in the beginning of this we were asking people, ‘if you’re sick, stay home,'” she said. “So there are probably a lot of people who had COVID-19 that did listen to us and take that recommendation and stay home. This is an opportunity for us to capture that picture of people that maybe did not go get tested that have recovered and have built those antibodies against the virus.”

County spokesperson Paul Anthony said CPL reached out to the county and asked if OPH could p rovide a facility for them to roll out this testing locally, and the county agreed.

Residents can make an appointment for antibody testing by calling OPH at 830-221-1150.

CPL Supports Transitional Planning

Kristin Barnebey, spokesperson for CPL, said the company is in the process of updating its website with more information about antibody testing and how it works, but suggested anyone interested in learning more about pricing to click on this link.

The minimum price for this fof-profit serology testing is $100. Three other additional tests are available at a cost of $42 each. CPL’s website said the company began serology testing for COVID-19 antibodies on April 21. Turnaround time for test results is one to three days.

“In response to this national health crisis and to ensure optimal access for patients, we are offering a single price for all payors,” the company said.

In a press release on Tuesday, Dr. Jerry Hussong, chief executive officer of Sonic Healthcare USA, said his company is partnering with local medical communities and public health officials “to be a leader in testing and transitional planning for return-to-work strategies over the coming weeks to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Sonic Healthcare USA laboratories are initially offering serology testing for SARS-CoV-2 designed to detect IgG and IgA antibodies for patients who are suspected or confirmed of having been exposed to the virus, which causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  The tests are being offered for use under the FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

“Our COVID-19 Medical and Technical Advisory Taskforce has worked hard to develop guidance for our test development and platform strategy to ensure we can support our local medical communities with their testing needs,” he said.

According to his company’s website, Hussong was one of the  laboratory executives who attended the emergency meeting at the White House on March 4 with Vice President Pence, HHS Secretary Azar, FDA Commissioner Hahn and other officials to address the national laboratory testing response.

He said the company understands price is an important component of ensuring affordable patient access.

CPL, which is headquartered in Australia, said adjustments in its pricing are due in part to clinical- and public-health reporting requirements to multiple federal and state governmental agencies, and because county public health departments require sizeable investments in IT infrastructure and personnel resources.

To learn more about antibody testing for COVID-19, click here.

COVID-19 Testing

Testing for active cases of COVID-19 at a New Braunfels drive-through site run by local physicians in coordination with Comal County and the City of New Braunfels continues to be scheduled by calling 830-312-7980 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If patients do not have a doctor, they will be assigned one to follow up with them after the test.

Fraser said the county is seeing a great increase in the number of appointments since the service was announced.

“We’re getting more testing data for Comal County,” she said. Comal County has posted a new position for a second epidemiologist.

Also on Monday, the OPH will reopen for routine appointments for immunizations and other services, but by appointment only. Drop-ins are not allowed.

Friday’s Statistics

  • 827 tests conducted
  • 58 positive tests
  • 719 negative tests
  • 50 results still pending

Location Breakdown

Of the 58 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Comal County, the location breakdown is:

  • 22 from New Braunfels or the immediate area
  • 11 from the Bulverde area
  • 6 from eastern Comal County
  • 5 from north of Canyon Lake
  • 3 from south of Canyon Lake
  • 3 from Garden Ridge
  • 3 from the Spring Branch area
  • 2 from Fair Oaks Ranch
  • 2 from southwest Comal County
  • 1 from central Comal County

Information about COVID-19, as well as coronavirus-related county office closures and restrictions, is available at www.comalcountytx.com/covid19.

Residents with questions or concerns about the novel coronavirus can call the county’s dedicated COVID-19 hotline, 830-221-1120, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


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