It Will Be Awhile Until We Know How Effective Coronavirus Antibody Tests Are

Dr. Stacey Brown and Dr. Will Timbers of Northern Inyo Hospital said the facility is resuming many of the services previously offered before COVID-19 arrived in the Eastern Sierra.

Timbers gave more detail as to what procedures are being offered at the hospital. “We have transitioned fully to our limited services, which include: colonoscopies, endoscopies, echocardiograms, and lab tests. The scope of what services we are offering is in line with what we would be doing normally,” Interim Chief Medical Officer Timbers expressed.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Dr. Stacey Brown said that patients have been taking advantage of telehealth visits with their healthcare provider. “Our patients have been going gangbusters with telemedicine and telephone calls,” Brown remarked.

Dr. Timbers, who works in the emergency room, also added that the department is using telehealth to screen patients before they arrive in order to limit exposure to coronavirus.

Both doctors discussed some of the limitations the hospital is experiencing as far as antibody testing validity. Northern Inyo Hospital has an antibody test available, but since the coronavirus is so new, there has not been enough time to obtain sufficient data relating to whether or not antibody tests can actually prove that a person who has had COVID-19 in the past is completely immune to the virus.

Brown spoke about the need for a vetted test to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order for the medical community to have confidence in the effectiveness of an antibody test.

“The first hurdle is that FDA antibody testing becomes available and that it is vetted. This is not going to be something where we get a vetted test by waiving a magic wand. It is going to take several weeks to months,” Brown remarked.

Protests have been popping up throughout the country, with demonstrators expressing their displeasure with the stay at home orders being implemented by state governments in order to curtail the spread of coronavirus. There is concern that those who are protesting and congregating in large groups are increasing the chance for people to be exposed to COVID-19.

Dr. Brown gave his thoughts on the protests saying, “It is your God-given American right to protest. I don’t think it is a problem to protest if individuals are six feet apart and wearing a mask. However, I do have a problem if you are protesting and not staying six feet apart from each other and not wearing a mask. One, you are not following the rule, and two, you are just being stupid.”

Brown also provided a message to those who believe that the coronavirus is a sham. “For the people that think this is a hoax or a joke, talk to the people who lost a family member to COVID. They will tell you that it is not a joke.”

Dr. Timbers encouraged the community to educate themselves and others when it comes to dispelling the notion that COVID-19 is something to be taken lightly. “The fix for this is that we need to rely on educating people as much as possible. We need to show them the evidence and keep up the good fight and getting the message out there. However, it is always going to be a problem when it comes to having naysayers,” Timbers said.