Here are some questions and answers from the Bell County news conference on Thursday, May 14, 2020.
Q: What is the health district’s opinion on antibody testing? Do you think residents should be tested if they think they have had the virus?
A: If you are symptomatic and think you have the virus, reach out to your health-care provider. The antibody test is new and it’s not totally reliable. If you have antibodies, did you have COVID-19 or another coronavirus? The health district does not know yet. Antibody tests are not attached to immunity and false negatives are very common with antibody tests, according to Amanda Robison-Chadwell, the public health director for the Bell County Health District.
Q: Is the county tracking how many Bell County residents have tested positive via an antibody test? If so, what is the number?
A: The health district has very recent numbers that they have reported as probable cases and not confirmed cases. It is too early and they do not currently have a number of cases, according to Robison-Chadwell.
Q: What is the possible end result of antibody testing? What does it reveal to health officials?
A: Not much, there were some early numbers that revealed possible cases before widespread testing was available throughout the county. It does not tell us a whole lot because the tests are so new, Robison-Chadwell said.
Q: It has been over a week since the state began to reopen. Is it too early to determine whether there is a causal relationship to coronavirus confirmed case numbers?
A: Health officials with Baylor Scott & White and AdventHealth said they have not seen a spike in cases over the past week as the state has reopened. The casual relationship question was not addressed.
Robison-Chadwell said we haven’t seen any major spikes but we are still in a position that we could. She is hoping we won’t see a jump and knocked on wood as she said she hasn’t seen anything alarming.
Q: A question was raised about a vaccine and a possible resurgence in the winter.
A: The vaccine makers are in a really tough spot. Weighing dangers of the vaccine to the people versus the virus you are fighting against is difficult, according to Robison-Chadwell. She could not provide a timeline for a vaccine. It’s possible we could see a resurgence in October, Robison-Chadwell said. She said she does not know the likelihood of a resurgence.
Dr. Robert Greenberg, Baylor Scott & White-Central Texas Division’s chief medical officer of medical services said that when it comes to vaccines it takes quite a while to make a good one and there can be significant risk to making something too quickly. We could do significant harm to a large portion of people if a vaccine that is not properly tested is used on a large portion of the world’s population.
Q: Is there an update on the Department of Motor Vehicles reopening?
A: The county is working closely with all of the county departments, according to David Blackburn, the Bell County judge. He said part of the DMV reopening is a state issue. The Bell County website is constantly providing updates on what services are available throughout the county, according to Blackburn. All of the tax assessors offices are now open for appointment only, Blackburn said.