Northwell Health can now process hundreds of coronavirus tests daily

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One of the nation's largest health systems can now process hundreds of coronavirus tests daily.

Starting Wednesday, Northwell Health began semi-automated testing at its diagnostic facility in Lake Success. The move will allow lab techs to go from processing 90 samples a day to hundreds.

The lab is now seeking FDA approval to fully automate the process, which would give it the capability to process more than 1,000 tests daily.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state's overall ability to test is "nowhere near where it needs to be." But Nassau Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein says there is no issue with testing in Nassau -- everyone who has symptoms and is suspected of the coronavirus has been able to get a test.

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In Suffolk, County Executive Steve Bellone also says there is no backlog on people who are sick getting tested.

The test kits involve a nasal swab that you put in a tube, freeze and send off to a lab.

Dr. John Zaso, who has a practice in East Meadow, says in addition to Northwell Health and a state lab in Albany, the kits can now be sent to commercial labs for testing. He says if you are not sick, there is no need for everyone to rush to get a test.

"Right now we want to be a sharpshooter and not use a shotgun," says Dr. Zaso. "We want to be targeted in on those people that we're going to get the biggest bang for the buck, meaning we think they're positive, we want to get them out of circulation by quarantining them. And then prevent them from spreading to further people."

The advice from medical professionals remains the same -- if you are sick and think you need a test, call your doctor before you show up to a doctor's office or urgent care.

 

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