SAN ANTONIO — In a city filled with nearly 2 million people, we've seen how quickly things can move. But the coronavirus has set a new standard; the virus known as the silent spreader can be anywhere.
"This is something that is hurting, harming and causing suffering across the board," Amanda Berard said. "This is something that everyone needs to be taken seriously."
Berard is a healthcare clinical researcher and part of Xenex, a company using a new swab test to detect coronavirus on surfaces.
According to the researchers, the coronavirus can survive for up to three days on physical surfaces; door knobs, countertops, sink handles, to name a few.
"All that does is determine whether or not it has been present in an environment; it cannot tell you that it is alive or dead simply that it is present," Berard said. "Some places it hasn't turned up at all, and in some places it has turned up and what that means is that they have people that are asymptomatic and are shedding the virus."
Asymptomatic people seem to be a big concern for scientists. According to the National Academy of Sciences, roughly 50% of coronavirus cases may be spread by people not showing symptoms.
So we took some tests to a place that needs to be clean: a school filled with teenage boys. Central Catholic High School opened its doors to Xenex to use as a testing ground for its swabs. In the school secretary's office, workout room and basketball court, reserachers swiped at surfaces.
"All the activities that occur at a school, all of that is at risk if people are fearful and anxious," said Paul Garro, the school's CEO and president. "The more we can calm those anxieties and (get) rid of the fears, the more we can get back to the development of young men and be a community."
From the school, KENS 5 ventured to a downtown park and tested seats, a table, a water fountain and a public parking garage door.
The test is quick, taking just a few seconds, and Berard says anyone who gets the kit can easily do it.
"It’s just an extra measure to know whether or not you've had people in your area, your business your establishment who haven't had any symptoms that way you can be a little more prepared," Berard said.
Once the swabbing is done, you send the kit back to the lab. Results come back in about two days.
KENS 5 reached out to Xenex once the results for the school and nearby park were in. The results were positive.
"All of the samples came back (as) 'Not detected,'" Berard said via Zoom, following the results. "Which is fantastic. Central Catholic is doing an amazing job to keep their facility clean. I was a little bit surprised that the park had nothing detected; we sampled some places that I would have thought that detected."
Berard added that the positive results are proof of how widespread efforts to contain the coronavirus can help to halt its spread.
"If we're not spreading it in these public spaces, then we're going to get back to normal," she said. "But it is important that people continue to be able to do these things, because it is effective."