Chester County is first in state to use COVID-19 antibody testing

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It’s a first in Pennsylvania: Coronavirus antibody testing will begin in Chester County this week. 

“Chester County will undertake antibody testing of priority individuals who are currently performing essential functions in the fight against COVID-19,” explained Chester County Commissioner Marian Moskowitz.

Those essential workers include first responders, health care workers and long-term care facility staff.

Staff and inmates at the Chester County Prison will also be given antibody tests to slow the spread of COVID-19 on-site.

The test draws a little bit of blood from the finger and can determine if coronavirus antibodies are present, even if a person isn’t showing symptoms. The results come in about 15 minutes.

Hospitals and care facilities will be able to administer tests.

“We have already received a shipment of 10,000 kits and are expecting a shipment of 10,000 more,” Moskowitz added.

Chester County Health Department Director Jeanne Casner emphasized that the antibody test is supplemental.

“This test is not a replacement for coronavirus test case confirmation. The nose swab test that we’ve been doing, we will continue to do due to the high-priority population that is showing symptoms,” she said.

The antibody test is intended to help officials better respond to the coronavirus emergency and patients.

Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline said in a statement, “As we review the results of the antibody blood tests, we will work with first responders, hospitals and long-term care facilities to determine how the results can best be used to manage this crisis. … The more we have, the more people we can test to get a fuller picture of how many have had COVID-19 in Chester County, either knowingly or unknowingly.”

As of Monday, Chester County reported 304 total coronavirus cases and three deaths.