It seems nearly everyone in Key West is convinced they had — and beat — COVID-19 back in February, when half the island was fighting some sort of illness.
But the partnership between One Clean Island and Advanced Urgent Care, which has tested more than 100 Key Westers for coronavirus antibodies, hasn’t turned up any antibodies in anyone, other than those who were known to have had coronavirus and were tested for antibodies to prove the test’s validity.
“These results, so far, tell us there’s an awareness that the virus may not have spread across Key West,” Dr. Bruce Boros, owner of Advanced Urgent Care and medical adviser to One Clean Island, said on May 5 during an antibody testing event for 100 or so postal workers.
The partnership had previously performed antibody testing on groups of Key West police officers, firefighters and now postal workers.
“We need money to continue the testing initiative,” said Jim Gilleran, a Key West planning board member and co-founder of One Clean Island. “We’re scrambling to get more antibody test kits, and if someone wants to sponsor a testing initiative for a certain group of people, that’d be most welcome.”
A fund has been established at First State Bank of the Florida Keys through Key West Cares for donations and sponsorships, Gilleran said.
Meanwhile, Boros also wants the partnership to acquire an ID Now testing platform that provides rapid results for active COVID-19 infections, rather than antibodies, which emerge in the late stages and after an active infection.
“Knowledge is power,” Boros said. “We’ve gotta know what we’re dealing with and have a system in place, once we open to visitors, to be able to test anyone with a fever or symptoms along with their travel group to know right away whether they have the virus and need to be quarantined.”
Boros also envisions what he calls a surveillance team to track quarantined residents and visitors, check on them two or three times a day and ensure they’re staying isolated.
“I’d like to see an aggressive plan for this island. We’re a smart island and we need to create specific policies and procedures,” Boros said. “We’ve got to get our economic engine started down here, but look what’s directly north of us in those counties. We can’t play hide and seek with this.”