Morgan said Sierra County’s Public Health Office, at 201 E. 4th Ave. in Truth or Consequences, has been testing every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., “with the focus on essential workers: first responders, law enforcement, utilities, daycare workers, employees of essential businesses, etc.”
If you would like to be tested, please call the Public Health Office at (575) 894-2716.
Local testing was announced to the community “with flyers from the Department of Health clinical and health-promotion staff,” Morgan said.
“Their local publicity efforts are considered successful given the number of people screen today [April 28],” Morgan said.
“A total of 71 sample collections were acquired from residents and will be sent to Albuquerque for testing,” Morgan said on April 28. “Results will be available within 72 hours, with priority given to anyone testing positive for the virus.”
“Testing criteria has been adjusted twice this month,” Morgan said, “as our daily state testing capacity has risen. Asymptomatic residents are now being tested, with a focus being on the essential workforce in every community. The push for testing in rural areas has been ongoing for weeks, with every county in New Mexico having screening events like the weekly one today in Truth or Consequences. Cumulative testing numbers are reported and revised twice weekly by both county and zip code at https://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/public-dashboard.html.”
According to that website, Sierra County has tested a total of 178 people, which is between 1 percent and 2 percent of the County’s population, which was 11,000 in 2018.
One of the people tested in the county have COVID-19 as of April 29, evidently one of the 71 tested April 28.
The State, as of April 29, has tested 65,085 out of 2,097,000 people in the State, which is three percent of the population. So far 112 people have died of the 3,213 people who have tested positive, which is a 3.5 percent death rate. But the margin of error is very high because the sample size is so small, making it dangerous to calculate infection and death rate from the number of current tests given.
A larger sample size needs to be taken to estimate the infection and death rate accurately; otherwise the testing data should be taken with a grain of salt.
According to an online margin-of-error calculator, with a population of 10,000, a sample size or the number of COVID-19 tests given would need to be 2,930 to have a 2-percent margin of error.
That sample size would allow the County to estimate, with confidence, what percentage of the population has the virus, but of course that would be a moving target requiring ongoing testing to monitor the infection rate.
But the sample size would need to be much larger to get an accurate estimate. According to Paul Romer, New York University economist and Nobel Laureate who has estimated how much testing should be done using statistical modeling has been often cited in the last two months by the media. He said the COVID-19 test, which takes a nasal swab, is 20-percent inaccurate. The swab takes too little sample or the person is in the early stages of the virus were two reasons he stated for inaccurate results. Romer said that margin of error also needs to be calculated in to determine sample size before estimating infection rates.
Romer said every person in the United States should be tested once every two weeks to monitor the infection rate, with infected people isolating. That level of testing would allow the country to open back up safely he said.