Researchers in Massachusetts randomly tested 200 people on the street and the results were surprising. They found that about a third of the people they tested were positive for the novel coronavirus.
As Fox News reports, Massachusetts General Hospital did a study in Chelsea by taking a drop of blood from random people, who were allowed to remain anonymous. The researchers than conducted a quick result test that revealed whether or not that person was positive for coronavirus.
Of the 200 people tested, 64 of them were positive.
Chelsea has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Thomas Ambrosino, the city manager of Chelsea, called the results “sobering.” He said that most people are aware that the actual number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is higher than the official statistics reveal, a result of a lack of nationwide testing availability.
“We’ve long thought that the reported numbers are vastly under-counting what the actual infection is,” Ambrosino said. “Those reported numbers are based on positive COVID-19 tests, and we’re all aware that a very, very small percentage of people in Chelsea and everywhere are getting COVID-19 tests.”
He added that it was concerning that so many people who aren’t showing any symptoms were still carrying the virus.
“Still, it’s kind of sobering that 30 percent of a random group of 200 people that are showing no symptoms are, in fact, infected. It’s all the more reason for everyone to be practicing physical distancing.”
Testing has become the focus in the battle against the coronavirus, with experts saying that the states will likely need to wait to ease stay-at-home orders until there is a more robust testing system in place in the country.
“Knowing how many people are infected is critical,” said Dr. Dean Xerras, who is the director at Massachusetts General’s Chelsea Healthcare center.
The study, though small, highlights the importance of testing, since people can be carriers without showing any symptoms. Xerras said that testing will enable cities to isolate infected individuals. This is necessary, he says, to prevent the pandemic from spreading.
Massachusetts has 36,372 cases of the disease and 1,560 deaths so far, making it the third-most infected state in the U.S.
The CDC has said that if the economy reopens soon without a testing system in place, it will likely result in a “significant” risk that the virus will resurge in the country.
The Trump administration has urged states to open as soon as possible, though he recognized that the decision is up to governors leading the states.