Brookline officials will begin testing 200 first responders and essential workers in town this week as part of an antibody testing project in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital.
A total of 600 people— 200 of the town’s first responders and essential workers, plus 400 residents — will be tested in the initiative to determine the prevalence of coronavirus antibodies among the community.
First responders and essential workers employed by the town of Brookline are being tested starting Tuesday, and the participating residents will be tested throughout the day on Friday, May 15, at Larz Anderson Park.
Antibody testing helps to identify how widespread the novel coronavirus has gone undetected within the community, and can clarify for public health and medical professionals how many people have contracted the virus without developing symptoms.
The antibody testing will be conducted by trained professionals using a finger stick test, which collects a small amount of blood that will subsequently be analyzed by MGH staff on-site. Residents will be notified of their results.
The testing site is set up as a drive-through and residents invited to take part are being asked to wear face coverings.
The testing effort is meant only for those who are asymptomatic, and who have never displayed symptoms of coronavirus, including cough, shortness of breath, fever, loss of taste or smell and a sore throat, among other possible symptoms.
Brookline Town Administrator Mel Kleckner and Director of Public Health Dr. Swannie Jett announced the partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital and Fallon Ambulance last week.
Residents were randomly selected to participate in the testing program and notified via mail. The selection process was conducted using randomized town census data.
“Having a sample size level understanding of the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies among residents and first responders is a critical step in building our understanding of the true size and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Jett said. “I’m grateful for our partners at Massachusetts General Hospital for facilitating this work, and am hopeful it will shed further light on the true extent of impact this virus has had on our community.”
Residents who have not been contacted by the Department of Public Health will not be tested, as the availability of antibody tests is extremely limited, according to town officials.