PHOENIX - Workers at Arizona labs are testing samples for the COVID-19 coronavirus, as the virus continues it spread in the United States and around the world.
The last time cameras were allowed in for a tour of the state lab for testing during a public health emergency was in 2016 for the Zika virus. Before that, it was in 2014, during a crisis related to the spread of Ebola.
The head of the Arizona State Public Health Lab, Dr. Victor Waddell, showed off one of the hundreds of test kits they have just received from the CDC. Starting Monday, Arizona's State Lab can now test its own samples for the coronavirus. They can test up to 450 samples a day.
"It's very important that our State Lab have testing up and running," said Dr. Cara Christ. "We're able to process either same day or next day."
Using a test sample, Dr. Waddell showed off the process they put each sample through. A sample will consist of a nasal swab, an oral one taken from the back of the throat, or saliva. Dr. Waddell says the first thing they do is kill the virus, and then test the sample. If coronavirus is detected, they consider it a presumptive positive, which is then sent to the CDC in Atlanta for confirmation.
"While having them go to CDC and pending the results didn't stop us from doing our public health measures, we'll know whether people are positive or negative a lot sooner," said Dr. Christ.
According to the state lab, 34 people have been tested so far, with one confirmed positive, one presumptive positive, five pending, and, 27 cases that have been ruled out, as of March 4.
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