NEW ORLEANS — The country's health experts are trying to figure out just how many of us have gotten the coronavirus.
Right now, we just rely on who gets a test, but that's not accurate.
So they are turning to the New Orleans area for some answers.
You've seen pop-up shops, pop-up restaurants, but now there may be the first pop up COVID tent.
The National Institutes of Health picked Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, along with a dozen and a half other cities, to join the COMPASS study.
“We don't know the actual prevalence in the community,” said Dr. Patty Kissinger, a Tulane Epidemiology Professor who is running the study locally.
Even with all the numbers of cases you’ve seen reported, we really don't know how many of us have the virus or have had the virus. That's because there are people who never get tested and those who never get sick and never know they were infected.
So the COMPASS study aims to get a better idea. Nearly every day, Dr. Kissinger and Tulane researchers will move their tents to a different community location.
Kaitlyn Taylor signed up on the spot.
“I think it's really important to contribute to COVID research. I mean, I'm able bodied, healthy so I think it's really important,” Taylor said.
So did George Mahdi.
“I think it's important for the community to be proactive about COVID-19, because it's killing a lot of people,” Mahdi said.
It's simple. You get a free nose swab to see if you have the virus. You get a free antibody blood test to see if you had it in the past. They ask you questions about your health habits, your willingness to get the vaccine and how the pandemic changed your lifestyle. Then you're done and you earn a $25 Amazon gift card for your time.
“So what we're trying to do is get excellent representation of the population, so we're going to the community,” Dr. Kissinger said.
That's why the daily locations are unannounced so participants are random.
“We went to the zoo yesterday and many of the people said, ‘Oh, we've seen your signs around.’ So it's getting out in the community. People are starting to understand that we're here,” she said.
So over the next few months, look for the COMPASS sign. Anyone, starting at two months and older can do it.
The pop-up tests will happen for three more months, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are hoping to get a few thousand people in the study.