Research at CSU shows why testing only symptomatic people won’t stop coronavirus in Colorado |

Research at CSU shows why testing only symptomatic people won’t stop coronavirus in Colorado

John Ingold, Colorado Sun

In the last couple of months, researchers at Colorado State University conducting coronavirus testing for workers at nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities made a series of startling discoveries.

Not only were there a large number of positive results in their test samples, and not only were many of those positives from people who showed no symptoms at all, but the asymptomatic workers were still producing and shedding significant amounts of virus that could go on to infect someone else.

The state’s nursing homes have enacted unprecedented precautions to keep the virus out. They banned visitors and check workers’ temperatures every day. But these unwitting carriers meant the virus still had an easy route into the state’s most vulnerable facilities.

“I think the very clear message — and this isn’t specific to nursing homes — there are a lot of people out there who are infected or infectious and don’t know it,” said Greg Ebel, the CSU professor whose lab ran the tests.

The research, which is ongoing and has yet to be published, sheds light on how nursing homes became some of the worst-hit hotspots in Colorado’s coronavirus epidemic, despite the precautions put into place. And it also helps explain why Gov. Jared Polis has made testing for nursing home workers such a priority in the new safer-at-home phase of the state’s response.

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