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FGCU to Conduct COVID-19 Antibody Study of Lee County Residents & Convalescent Plasma Trial Update

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Lee County is providing up to $450,000 in funding from the $134.5 million dollars it received through the CARES Act for Florida Gulf Coast University to conduct a COVID-19 antibody study, similar to ones that have been conducted in Santa Clara County and New York State. The goal is to determine how many people may have contracted the new coronavirus but never showed symptoms.

The FGCU study will test a cross-section of Lee County residents – 4000 in all – to find out how many of them may have been positive for COVID-19 at some point, but were asymptomatic. To learn more we're joined by the study lead, Dr. Krista Casazza, Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship in the Marieb College of Health & Human Services at FGCU.

Plus, for the past two months Lee Health has been participating in Mayo Clinic’s nationwide convalescent plasma trial. It’s one of 2,486 sites where researchers are seeking to determine whether plasma extracted from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19 might be a beneficial treatment for people who currently have it.

The first phase of the study seeks to determine whether it's safe to use the plasma, and Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators say initial data show confirms that is the case. We get the latest on that trial and the local effort Lee Health's lead researcher, infectious disease doctor Doug Brust. Anyone wishing to volunteer to donate blood can call 239-343-2332 or email covid.plasma@leehealth.org.

Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University. 
Julie Glenn is the News Director and the host of Gulf Coast Live. She joined the WGCU team in November of 2016 to expand the Gulf Coast Live call-in radio show from once a week to five days a week.  Since then, the show has been recognized in state and regional competitions and has featured artists, political leaders, historians, environmental experts, doctors, local reporters, and national and international scholars. After leading the station's award-winning coverage of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017, Julie was named Interim News Director. In January of 2018, she launched WGCU's first podcast: Grape Minds.