FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 18, 2020
Media Contact: Maria Reppas, firstname.lastname@example.org
VDH Announces Results of COVID-19 Serology Study
Roughly 2.4% of Adults Had Prior COVID-19 infection with Rates Higher among Hispanic Population
(Richmond, Va.) — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced the results of its Coronavirus Serology Project that was conducted during summer of 2020. An estimated 2.4% of adult Virginians have antibody test evidence of a prior COVID-19 infection. The presence of COVID-19 antibodies was highest in Hispanic individuals (10.2%), residents of the Northern region (4.4%), and among those uninsured or insured through Medicaid (3.8%). Statewide, Hispanic ethnicity, residence in an apartment building or other multi-family housing unit, and reported contact with a COVID-19 case significantly increased the risk of having a positive antibody test. The project’s findings will help Virginia address the COVID-19 pandemic by understanding risk factors and giving the public health system and hospitals information to plan for future health care needs.
“The results are in line with the preliminary findings we reported in August that suggested a relatively low rate of COVID-19 exposure overall among Virginia adults,” said M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A., Virginia State Health Commissioner. “Virginians are avoiding infections by following recommendations on wearing masks, social distancing and handwashing. We continue to study the higher rate of infection in Hispanic adults and to work with community partners to formulate additional interventions.”
VDH partnered with a health system in each of Virginia’s five health planning regions to estimate the total number of people that have been infected with the COVID-19 virus in Virginia at any time in the past. From June 1 to August 14, 2020, 4,675 adult outpatients presenting for non-COVID related health care agreed to complete a questionnaire and provide a blood sample for COVID-19 antibody testing. Enrollment was stratified to meet the age, race, and ethnic population distribution of each region.
Participating health care systems across Virginia include: Inova Health System (Northern), Virginia Commonwealth University (Central), Sentara Healthcare (Eastern), Carilion Clinic (Southwest), and University of Virginia (Northwest).
The information from the serology study will help public health officials and Virginia’s hospitals plan for future urgent healthcare needs.