More participants needed for COVID-19 prevalence study in Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE - Ochsner Health officials say they are in need of your help for a COVID-19 prevalence study that's winding down in East Baton Rouge Parish.
It's a first of its kind study looking to specifically examine how many people in the parish have been infected with the virus since the start of the pandemic. Those who are eligible to participate will be able to receive a free coronavirus test and antibody test.
After starting up in mid-July, the study’s deadline has been pushed back once to try and get more people involved. Dr. Leo Seoane with Ochsner says that was in order to increase the accuracy of the data collected from participants.
“The way we do a prevalence study is much like a political poll. We have to make a mini Baton Rouge to make sure we represent all the constituents in the Baton Rouge area,” Seoane said.
Seoane says they now specifically need people from the following ZIP codes in Baton Rouge to participate before the study is scheduled to end this week:
“We need to make sure we have representation from all races and ethnicity. And currently, we don’t have enough African Americans to truly have a mini Baton Rouge,” Seoane said.
Seoane says they’re looking to enroll at least 100 more African American participants as they try to meet their original goal of 2,500 people in the study. Anyone 18 years or older who has not tested positive for COVID-19 is eligible, and participants go through the two separate virus tests if selected.
“One, we do a nasal swab to see are you actively infected. And the other component is a slight blood draw to see if you have antibodies that’ll tell us have you ever been infected,” Seoane said.
A similar study just conducted by Oschner in Orleans and Jefferson parishes shows that African American's have been disproportionately affected by the virus, "and we’d like to know what is the disproportion share in Baton Rouge,” Seoane said.
He added that the study would allow for hospitals and other healthcare agencies to better target where to send their limited resources, like testing kits.
“We clearly have to test symptomatic patients. But we also need to test asymptomatic patients. And since testing is such a precious resource right now, I'd probably want to make sure I'm doing my asymptomatic and community testing in the neighborhoods that we know have the most silent spreaders,” Seoane said.
Anyone interested can sign up here at TestBR.org. Ochsner can provide free transportation to and from the sites. Everyone who participates in the Baton Rouge Prevalence Study will also be entered to win one of 100 $50 gift cards.