COVID-19 Update: Experts discuss ear, nose and throat care, pool sampling amid pandemic


(WTNH) — Have you made your regular doctor appointments recently? A lot of people are getting back into a regular healthcare routine as Phase 3 reopening nears. Plus, as more is known about the virus, a new way of testing is being explored.

Testing for COVID-19 has been a big issue throughout this pandemic. First, there was a shortage of supplies and now we are hearing about batch, or pool sampling, where people’s samples are being tested together.

Dr. Manisha Juthani, a Yale Medicine Infectious Disease Specialist and Associate Professor at Yale School of Medicine, says this is most effective in areas that have lower rates of COVID-19 infections and cases – like Connecticut now.

She says you’d test small groups of five or 10 all together in one kit. If the result is negative for COVID-19, you proceed with heightened confidence.

“If you pool tests into one sample that can be run at once,” she explained, “you can clear an entire group on-mass very quickly and this is very good for settings like schools, colleges, large workplaces because you could potentially avert an outbreak.”

If the group result is positive you do more tests in smaller groups to narrow it down, or even individual tests on those in the group.

“Let’s say kids go back to school and one kid gets infected,” she says, “something like pool testing could really help identify who’s sick and keep them out and be able to get school back and running again quickly.”

Group/ pool testing could quickly increase testing while saving on tests being used.

Doctor Deborah Birx on the national Coronavirus Task Force says she would like to see pool testing in the U.S. to ramp up – something the FDA is working on. It is already being done in other countries.

WEB EXTRA: Full interview with Dr. Juthani about pool testing and how it could help schools and workplaces reopen with confidence in the fall in the video below.

WEB EXTRA: Doctor Carl Moeller, an Ears, Nose, and Throat Specialist with Hartford HealthCare, tells us how his practice initially reacted to the pandemic and what precautions they took to protect patients and staff during the transition back to in-person visits and elective surgery.

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