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Pine Island COVID-19 Task Force continues discussion of on-island testing, other issues

By Staff | Jul 29, 2020

At the July 20 meeting, Pine Island COVID-19 Task Force member Martha Huard said that she has reached out to the island CVS to request its location be used as a testing site for COVID-19.

“It’s a self-administered test,” said Huard. “You’d fill out the paperwork, they’d do the test and give it back to you and then it’s sent in for processing.”

Huard told CVS the Task Force would appropriate volunteer staffing if necessary. Upon approval from CVS corporate headquarters, the matter pends.

In regard to testing, Task Force member Jim Koopman, an epidemiologist, said there needs to be high usage and fast turnaround. The key, he said, is to find people who are transmissible and have repeated testing done.

The group re-discussed the idea of submitting a survey to islanders to ascertain interest in testing among the local population. Former WINK-TV news anchor Jim McLaughlin, another Task Force member, agreed to get something of this nature out to islanders via Facebook.

McLaughlin said he has seen a great deal of positivity toward the prospect of testing recently.

“Apropos of nothing,” said McLaughlin, “somebody just asked, ‘Is there any testing on the island?’ And several people chimed in saying well, there should be.”

The group is currently attempting to launch a phone-tree, in an effort to reach out to islanders who may be in need of immediate healthcare with the question of how best to obtain the names of people who’d like to be contacted. Task Force member Ellen Ballard said she has spoken with several island organizations, who already have a pipeline of people in their care, in place.

Task Force leader Eric McCrea contends that the most effective use of the phone-tree would be to utilize networks that are currently in place, as they are already getting calls from people they know.

Ballard asked the group whether it would be feasible to encourage islanders to set up their own contact tracing lists. She admitted she’s kept track since the beginning of April, the dates on which she or her husband have visited public places.

“Because if I were to be exposed, or become symptomatic and the Department of Health contacted me and asked where I was on a particular date, I would be otherwise clueless,” said Ballard.

She said this was the only way she could think of to keep an accurate record without downloading an app on her phone, which she says makes her uncomfortable.

Task Force member Katey Largay RN MPH agreed that keeping a personal account of ones whereabouts is likely a good solution in light of the fear that contact tracing instills in many who see it as an infringement on their privacy.

She also suggested making information on contact tracing available to the public in an attempt to squelch the fears associated with the process.