Precious Burnette gets tested for coronavirus during tested conducted by the Georgia National Guard and Air National Guard at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Macon Tuesday.
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Precious Burnette gets tested for coronavirus during tested conducted by the Georgia National Guard and Air National Guard at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Macon Tuesday.

Up until now, coronavirus tests in Georgia have been reserved for the sick.  

That’s starting to change as strategically placed testing sites for people with no COVID-19 symptoms are collecting data that can help health workers leapfrog outbreaks before they happen.  

On Tuesday, Ebenezer Baptist Church in the Beall’s Hill neighborhood of Macon was a site for these tests. While there, a mix of Air National Guard and National Guard members collected about 100 tests. Those tests are going back to Augusta University where medical technologist Kelly Foss and others will analyze them.  

Foss says results from tests of people who aren’t sick with coronavirus serve a different purpose than tests of those who already know they are ill. 

"The numbers can be skewed when you test only the sick population," Foss said. "Because obviously the number and the percentage of positive tests that you receive will be higher than if you're out there just testing normal population."

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By finding the infected who aren’t yet sick, Georgia Department of Public Health epidemiologists can put together a more complete model of where coronavirus is in Georgia communities before it creates a health crisis.  

Foss says people infected by coronavirus but not showing symptoms can still spread it.  

“We want to get out there and see what population could possibly be affected so that we can put up precautions in place for those particular areas,” Foss said.

So far, a few thousand of these tests of the asymptomatic have been collected across 20 or so sites in Georgia. The testing will take place again in Macon on May 5.  

Meanwhile, anyone tested here on Tuesday should know by the end of the week whether or not they are asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus.