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JPSO deputies who recovered from coronavirus join study on why some are hit harder than others

Once again, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputies are on the front lines, but today, some of them are protecting and serving in a very different way.

METAIRIE, La. — More than 50 people in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department have tested positive for the coronavirus. Some say they barely felt sick and others were very sick.

So why is there such a difference from person to person? National researchers are turning, in part, to local deputies for answers.

LSU Health doctors and nurses teamed up with scientists at the National Cancer Institute to draw blood and do research on people who have gotten the coronavirus, then recovered.

"This is an ongoing effort, a worldwide effort really, to understand what is the difference between patients who do very well, even though they are COVID-19 infected, and the individuals who don’t do well," said Dr. Augusto Ochoa, Director of the Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center at LSU Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Ochoa, and his team in New Orleans, along with the NCI, will study the antibodies in the blood of deputies, and others, who recovered from the infection. They want to know, why do some people get well and have no major health problems, while others are in the ICU on ventilators? Sheriff Joe Lopinto says nearly a dozen of his recovered deputies didn’t hesitate to move research forward.

"I can tell you nearly every one of them volunteered. 'Yes, we’ll do whatever we can to make sure we can help everybody out.' You know, it hits close to home losing a member of our family last week. They understand that this is serious," Lopinto said.

Some of the samples will stay here at the Louisiana Cancer Research Center, and others will go to NCI labs in Maryland. But the men and women who donated will be back on the streets, with extra gear, including PPEs over their faces.

The study is looking for 50 people who have recovered. Call 1-866-559-2476 toll-free to join.

The sheriff says he still has six members of his staff in the hospital with COVID-19.

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