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Did This Wyomingite Have COVID-19 Back In January? 'Very, Very Unlikely'

This scanning electron microscope image shows the virus that causes COVID-19, in yellow, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab.
This scanning electron microscope image shows the virus that causes COVID-19, in yellow, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab.

Over the next few weeks, the Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Holly Spriggs lives in Fremont County, Wyoming. She says she had a really bad cough and a cold back in late January. 

"I wonder if there's any kind of test to be able to test the antibodies to see, did I already have COVID-19?" she asks.

I ran Holly's question by an epidemiologist named Tim Sly. He says there are antibody tests but they aren't readily available yet. He also says it's unlikely that someone in the Mountain West had the novel coronavirus that early. That's because the virus only started circulating in China in December and the first case in the U.S. wasn't identified until mid-January.

"So the people in Wyoming or Montana who figure that they've had this—very, very unlikely," Sly says.

He says it's much more likely that Holly had the flu or a really bad cold. 

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News

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