Wheeling, W.Va. (WTRF) – Most of the COVID-19 news has been discouraging as we end the summer—but scientific progress is providing us with a rare point of optimism.

Local health officials believe that as we learn more about the virus, the information gleaned from tests should greatly improve in the coming years.

Ohio County Health Administrator Howard Gamble says he’s seen a dramatic shift in just a year and a half.

Early on in the pandemic, testing was generally limited to specific purposes, such as for those who went into the emergency room.

That eventually changed to larger and larger groups, before antibody and rapid tests came in.

Gamble believes that eventually they’ll be able to quickly tell which variant someone has, and tell doctors just the right treatment they should be put on.

Right now the concern is not so much testing, knowing what someone has, but coming off of this upward trend of cases by vaccination. And that’s where we need to be so we can manage the cases and then look to see how can we improve testing for the future.

Howard Gamble, Administrator, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department

Gamble says health departments collect all the data whenever they see a positive case, which they can then put toward this kind of research.

But he explains that we first have to get out of this spike before it can be used to its fullest potential.