Georgia Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D., issues statement on COVID-19

Georgia Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta) distributed the following statement on June 11…

As one of the five [Georgia] senators who contracted the COVID-19 virus in mid-March, I have learned a lot about this virus over the last two months. Thankfully all five of us have now recovered and we are going back to work next week to wrap up the 2020 legislative session. The session will look a lot different with virus precautions in place.

I was isolated at home in my bedroom during the two-week period that the entire legislature was quarantined. Tests were not as available at that time, but I met the criteria due to my age and symptoms. I contacted [Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey, M.D., M.P.H.] to let her know that I had tested positive and she connected me with the research folks at Emory who were developing a study on antibodies and convalescent plasma.

By now most people know that the PCR test done with a nasopharyngeal or nasal swab is the primary way to make the diagnosis of COVID at the point in time that the test is done. The antibody test is a blood test and is a look back to see if someone has previously had the virus.

The Emory study has two parts…

1) Blood samples from volunteers who have tested positive for COVID-19 are analyzed for the presence and level of SARS-CoV2 antibodies, including the level of IgG and the viral specific antibodies that are consistent with providing treatment antibodies to COVID patients. The volunteers directly donate plasma to LifeSouth and the antibodies are provided to sick patients.

2) The blood drawn for the tests allows Emory to do immunology research to better define the duration, memory, and long-term response to this novel virus. As vaccines are developed, this will help predict re-infection, effectiveness of vaccines and antibody duration.

About 30 days after developing symptoms, I went to Emory for antibody testing. A couple of weeks later my results came back with positive antibodies and I met the criteria to donate plasma. I completed the donation on June 8 and my three units of plasma will be used for three different COVID patients. It is a great feeling to have recovered and to help someone else who might have more serious problems.

We will be screening everyone who enters the Capitol for fever and those whose temperature is elevated will be given information about testing. The number of people in the Capitol will be limited to allow for social distancing, and people will be asked to wear face coverings and to sanitize their hands frequently. Our committee and chamber proceedings will operate under different procedures which will allow us to continue to do the state’s business for the final days of the 2020 session. The precautions are necessary because we operate in close quarters with the public and we have seen that the virus can spread quickly in that setting.

If anyone is interested in more information about the Emory study, please contact me at kay.kirkpatrick@senate.ga.gov or 404.656.3932.