As labs work around the clock, what is the procedure for coronavirus testing?

The Northwell Health laboratory in Lake Success is operating around the clock, testing samples for the coronavirus. But testing capacity is limited, so doctors say they have to screen patients carefully before submitting a sample.

News 12 Staff

Mar 11, 2020, 9:48 PM

Updated 1,497 days ago

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With coronavirus testing ramping up across Long Island, what is the procedure? And who can get one?
The Northwell Health laboratory in Lake Success is operating around the clock, testing samples for the coronavirus. But testing capacity is limited, so doctors say they have to screen patients carefully before submitting a sample.
Dr. Dwayne Breining says criteria for testing typically includes flu-like symptoms, as well as a travel history to regions where there is a large outbreak, and possible contact with other coronavirus patients. Priority is given to those who are critically ill or may have infected others.
On Wednesday, the lab received emergency authorization to perform what's known as semi-automated testing, which will increase its capacity of tests per day into the hundreds.
Doctors say the next step to speed things along even more would be to allow for fully automated testing, which could allow them to analyze more than 1,000 samples every day.
For now, officials are reminding residents that testing is still limited and that they should follow these steps if they think they could be infected:
"If they're feeling symptomatic, reach out to your doctor's office – they'll guide you from there," says Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. "If a recommendation is made on testing – that will come to our county Health Department, which will be in consultation with the state Health Department."
Fully automated testing also requires approval from the FDA. Northwell officials say that process could take another two weeks.
PHOTOS: Impact of the coronavirus worldwide
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