BOZEMAN — Gov. Steve Bullock announced earlier this week that Montana State University has joined forces with the state in doing surveillance testing for the coronavirus.
MSU provided MTN News with more information about the COVID-19 surveillance testing that will begin Monday, July 27.
“This is a statewide effort, so we will be the sentinel, surveillance test site for the entire state, and that’s why it’s so important for DPHHS to help prioritize what samples get set to us. They’re going to aim for 500 per day at the start, and then we’re hoping to scale that to 2,000 tests per day,” explained Jason Carter, the vice president of research at MSU.
The Department of Public Health and Social Services will select groups of people, who may not be showing any symptoms and test them individually to make sure the virus isn’t unknowingly within a group.
“We’re going to be able to help with the law enforcement testing, the healthcare services testing, what’s going to be needed for K-12 and the university. So, those asymptomatic participants who we need to get ahead of the curve on so that we can have a good strategy moving forward for this fall,” Carter said.
But this isn’t like other COVID-19 tests -- you don’t volunteer individually to get tested.
“Who gets tested is going to be prioritized by the Department of Public Health and Human Services and then we’ll get those nasal swabs and run them to see if they have COVID,” he explained.
Some people might be wondering if an increase in testing will mean an increase in positive cases for the state.
“These individuals that we’re going to be testing at the Montana State University laboratory are in all likelihood going to come up negative. We’re expecting a very low number. But if we do detect an individual that is positive they will then have an official test done [at] the CILA certified labs at the state lab in Helena,” Carter said.
Testing will begin on Monday, July 27 and last as long as it is needed.