An entire town in California is planning to test every single one of its residents for coronavirus in an attempt to prevent infections and learn about the spread of the disease.
The wealthy bay area town named Bolinas will begin the process on Monday, with the aim of testing all 1,680 residents for the novel coronavirus disease, according to The Mercury News.
Any resident over the age of four can receive both active and retroactive testing for the virus as part of the study.
The testing, which is reported to be costing $400,000, is being privately funded by the town’s residents and spearheaded by venture capitalist Jyri Engestrom and Olema Pharmaceuticals founder Cyrus Harmon, the newspaper reported.
“It’s this question of, well, do you just sit around and wait for the federal government to do something or do you try to take action and help?” Mr Engestrom told the outlet.
There have been no confirmed coronavirus cases so far in the reclusive Northern California village, however, it has been identified by researchers as a unique opportunity for the medical community to investigate how the disease spreads.
The study is happening in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), which will analyse the samples provided by residents and return the results.
“In order for us to respond effectively,” Diane Havlir, head of UCFS’s HIV/AIDS division, said in a statement, “we need more local community epidemiology like this study to get a sense of where we stand, and where active infection may still be occurring, so as public health officials begin to release constraints on movements we can avoid resurgence of the disease.”
Volunteers and organisers will be running the drive-through, four-day testing project that locals can sign up for online in advance.
“And all of that testing is done by licensed medical professionals. These are phlebotomists that work in hospitals or actually professionally get lab samples from homebound people,” UCSF scientist Dr Aenor Sawyer told CBS affiliate CBS SF.
Already, 1,430 people have signed up for the experiment, nearly the entire town, according to The Mercury News.
“We’re hoping to discover how widely is the virus actually spread,” Mr Engestrom told CBS SF. “Nobody in California really seems to know right now.”
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