In an effort to better understand how COVID-19 spreads through communities, Arapahoe County is collaborating with the University of Colorado – Anschutz Medical Campus on a COVID-19 Arapahoe SErosurveillance Study (CASES) Project. The project’s goals are to understand who has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and to learn more about the immune response to the virus.
The two-phase study has already begun to evaluate SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in first responders (Phase 1), and researchers are now turning their attention toward the general population of Arapahoe County for Phase 2. In early August, Phase 1 of the study found that approximately 4% of first responders had a previous COVID-19 infection. Phase 2 will test a randomly selected sample of the County’s general population—about 1,200 households—for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, which confirms a prior COVID-19 infection.
The project’s managers are working with the Sun Bus, a mobile classroom and clinic that normally educates communities about melanoma, to visit local neighborhoods and inform families about COVID-19. The randomly selected households, which are being notified of their selection via mail, can participate in a brief survey about prior exposures to COVID-19, any prior testing, and history of COVID-19 symptoms. Participants will also provide a quick finger stick blood sample to measure antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2. After testing, results will be sent confidentially to participants.
If you’re one of the randomly selected households that have received a CASES Project postcard, we hope you’ll consider participating in this important research study. “This project is a welcome addition to the many studies of COVID-19 that have begun this year,” said Arapahoe County Board Chair Nancy Sharpe. “By looking more closely at first responders and now at the broader community, we can begin to determine how the virus behaves and spreads, and we can create protocols that will help protect our communities from further infections.”
The study is led by Dr. Rosemary Rochford, a Professor of Immunology at the University of Colorado – Anschutz Medical Campus. Dr. Rochford and her team have been closely studying how the immune system reacts to the virus and have designed a new antibody test that can give accurate results quickly and affordably. This project, which is being administered at the County level by our Office of Emergency Management, is funded through Arapahoe County CARES and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The CASES Project will measure participant’s antibodies in the future as well, which will help scientists discover more about how antibodies change over time and how the immune system reacts to the virus that causes COVID-19. This can also help evaluate the risk of someone being infected more than once and the immune response to a future vaccine. Information from the CASES Project will also help inform COVID-19 public policy and emergency management in Arapahoe County.
For more information about the CASES Project please email CASESProject@cuanschutz.edu, or visit bit.ly/CASESPhase2.