Testing became a common feature before guests could be allowed to participate in parties in affluent seaside communities – and cost up to $ 500 per person, says Rashid, who operates a members-only medical concierge service.
And unlike regular testing, where people wait for days or even weeks, clients get their results on the spot. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the country, where testing delays are rampant. Experts say the longer turnaround time has undermined the usefulness of the tests in identifying the virus and curbing its spread.
Guests at the Hamptons party sign a consent to publish their results once they are out, Rashid says, which typically takes 10 to 30 minutes. The host then determines if they are allowed to enter.
“Instead of having appetizers at the party, the theme now is to do quick tests,” Rashid told CNN’s Anderson Cooper this week.
Tests not always correct, experts warn
There are two types of coronavirus tests. A viral test shows if you have a current infection while an antibody test detects past infections.
Rashid says she administered the finger prick or nasal swab in cars at various events, including sleepovers and family reunions.
“I still have a disclaimer that no test is 100%. Pandemic precautions still need to be applied, ”she said. “But I agree as a society and as citizens, if we have participated in the testing of our customers, it is always a good thing against a taboo. “
The Food and Drug Administration has warned against using certain rapid tests, saying they could give inaccurate negative results. For example, several studies have raised questions about a rapid test used by the White House, and the FDA has received reports of potential problems with this test.
This test – Abbott’s “ID NOW Covid-19” point-of-care test, produces results within minutes. It is portable enough to be used in mobile test sites and rural areas that do not have easy access to laboratories.
While the studies have raised doubts about its accuracy, Abbott took issue with these reports and pointed to more favorable results. Last month, the company said it delivered 4.3 million such tests to all states and the false negative complaint rate was 0.015%.
It is not known what specific tests are used in the Hamptons – there are several other tests authorized by the FDA. Rashid says his customers are aware of some of the false positives and negatives of the tests.
“They realize that these tests are not 100%. But do we really have any current tests in the market that are 100% reassuring to our people here in the United States? ” she says.
Delays in testing undermine efforts elsewhere
Suffolk County, where the Hamptons are located, has reported a total of 44,400 coronavirus cases and 2,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The county especially saw a big increase after the July 4th vacation.
Some parties have made headlines for defying social distancing rules. In July, state officials said they were investigating a benefit concert in Southhampton that violated social distancing guidelines. The Benefit was billed as a socially distant drive-in concert, starred by The Chainsmokers.
But instead, it “involved thousands of people nearby, out of their vehicles … and generally not following social distancing guidelines,” the New State Health Commissioner said at the time. York, Dr. Howard Zucker.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was “appalled” by videos of the concert which showed “gross violations of social distancing.” He called it a reckless endangerment of public health.
But in the past few weeks, Rashid says most of his rapid tests have come back negative.
“Fortunately, in the Hamptons, we don’t see a lot of positive results. There aren’t many cases, ”Rashid says.
While some Hamptons revelers are able to get their results instantly, the state has seen delays in testing. Health experts last month warned that New York City faces significant delays in delivering coronavirus test results, which could affect efforts to reopen the economy.
And the problem extends beyond New York. Some states, laboratories and public health departments have warned that turnaround times for diagnostic tests have slowed in part due to growing demand and persistent barriers in the supply chain.
“You do the tests to find out who is carrying the virus, then you isolate them quickly so they don’t spread it,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes for Health. “We have to do things that are more on the spot. There are a number of new technologies coming up that look very promising in this area. We have to invest a lot of money. ”
Rashid says she is aware that rapid tests are not available to everyone, and in some cases, she also struggles to get them.
“Even for me, we’re able to pull a few strings, but if the manufacturer says we don’t have the test for two weeks, there’s nothing we can do about it,” she says. “I think it’s definitely a question at the government level as to why it’s not mass produced. “