Coronavirus testing center in New York : New York health care provider Northwell Health Labs (Northwell Labs) has started manual testing of novel coronavirus samples (COVID-19 samples) at its 100,000-square-foot diagnostic facility in Lake Success having secured state and federal authorization.
The diagnostic lab was visited by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, which paved the way for the manual testing of COVID-19 swab samples. Northwell Labs said that it had invested more than $2 million recently to prepare its lab to start COVID-19 diagnostics.
The investment was made in lab supplies and equipment, said the health care provider, which is using a testing process developed and approved by the New York State Department of Health (DOH).
Within the first full day, Northwell Labs anticipates to manually test 90 potential COVID-19 samples.
Considered to be one of the largest automated testing lines in North America, the $60 million Northwell Labs facility is claimed to process nearly 20 million tests annually.
Apart from the manual testing for coronavirus that was authorized, Northwell Health Labs is seeking approval from the US Food & Drug Administration to use semi-automated testing within this week. The health care provider said that this would give the capability to the laboratory to process hundreds of tests daily, with a plan to boost it to thousands daily in the near future.
Commenting on the manual testing of the novel coronavirus samples, Dwayne Breining – executive director of the Northwell Labs, said: “Over the past week, we’ve been developing the test for COVID-19, thanks to the assistance we‘ve received from New York State’s DOH Laboratory.
“Now that the accuracy of our testing process has been validated, we can begin notifying providers and patients of their lab results and start gearing up for an automated testing process that would enable us to significantly expand the number of samples we can process.”
Northwell Labs said that while the expanded ability to test samples for coronavirus will greatly improve its ability to handle patients with potential infection, testing will continue to be reserved for those showing severe coronavirus symptoms and who have had confirmed close contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient.
John D’Angelo – chair of emergency medicine at Northwell Labs, commenting on the coronavirus testing center in New York, said: “Only people who meet that criteria will be tested – and that testing is currently being performed at hospital emergency departments and urgent care centers.
“Even as our testing capacity increases, we will continue to screen people judiciously so we can focus our attention on those most at risk for severe COVID-19 infection who require more-immediate and intensive medical attention. All others who are concerned about exposure but who have mild or no symptoms should recuperate at home.”
While the first novel coronavirus case was reported in Washington, the US now has more than 500 coronavirus cases as of now across 44 states. The number of coronavirus deaths in the US has gone up to 22.