BLAINE COUNTY — The Blaine County COVID-19 STATS Research Project has been underway since early summer. For this study, the doctors in charge wanted nearly 600 participants.
The study included around 50 participants. While the group size is not the original figure those spearheading the project wanted, they are grateful for those who have volunteered their time and agreed to this.
For some of these participants, they felt obligated to help, especially since the Blaine County area was greatly impacted the pandemic first started.
“A lot of people in this town are very transient," said Erin Kelso, a participant from Sun Valley. "They’re in and out a lot, and I was here the entire time, so I felt kind of a duty to be a part of it.”
Those who are taking part in this program have weekly responsibilities, like administering self nasal swabs to test for COVID-19 and filling out surveys. While it may sound like a daunting task, a lot of the participants have shared that it has been going very smoothly.
“You just do five turns on one side, then five turns on the other side, and that’s pretty much it," said Terry Potts, a participant from Hailey. "It wasn’t really difficult. I think there was one time where I didn’t get the survey, and so I just had to call or email them.”
Some of these participants have even expressed great appreciation for having access to regular COVID-19 testing to see whether or not they have contracted the virus.
“I like having this as an added benefit of having this once a week," said Kelso. "I do the test, and then they send me back a little link, and I can check on the computer and see how the tests came back.”
Currently, the doctors, medical staff, and scientists involved in this study are still in the process of collecting data, so it will take some time to be able to discuss any major findings.
Still, those involved in the study have hopes that once it all concludes, medical professionals would have gathered useful information to fight against COVID-19. Or perhaps, shed light on other tools to fight against another pandemic in the future.
“I’m really keeping my fingers crossed that this will be beneficial," said Kelso. "So far, I feel like COVID has been really sneaky, and every time the doctors and scientists think they know something about it, it morphs and changes.”
Other participants share the same feeling but also hope that it can help bring some closure to the politics surrounding COVID-19 and bring people together.
“I think just being able to say look, we’ve done the study in different places with different people, and here are the results," said Potts. "Hopefully, people will start to have a little basic respect for science and healthcare again.”