Study looks at people who may be spreading coronavirus but don’t know it

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Local doctors say they’re encouraged by results of a Baptist Hospital study looking into how many people might have the coronavirus but don’t know it.

If you’re walking around, experts said you could be passing on the coronavirus to others and not even know it. That’s why it’s important to keep your distance and stay home as much as possible.

But now that cases are spreading, doctors are starting to get limited data that tells more of the story.

In Monday’s daily news briefing, Baptist Hospital’s infectious disease specialist Dr. Steve Threlkeld mentioned a study addressing this concern.

WREG followed up with him and learned Baptist researchers in Jackson, Mississippi, took a closer look at two employees who tested positive.

“We said we have the capability to test a lot of people, so we can both get an idea of the risk in the facility and also at the same time get a large sample in a community to see how many positives,” Dr. Threlkeld said. “Not a lot of people are capable of doing that, so we sampled 200.”

He said they tested 200 more Baptist employees who worked with the two infected people, and all of those 200 tests came back negative.

“Which is amazing,” Dr. Threlkeld said. “That is both interesting and to some degree relieving.”

He said it’s still very preliminary data, and if anything, it shows we can stay ahead of the spread by continuing to limit contact and keep our distance.

“It should make us redouble our efforts to know we’ve been given an advantage,” he said.

Dr. Threlkeld said he hasn’t seen any comparable studies testing people without symptoms and said they plan to do more at their facilities.

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