Pennsylvania can now conduct coronavirus tests, but only a few at a time

Written by on March 4, 2020

Pennsylvania can now conduct coronavirus tests, but only a few at a time

Credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

By Tyler Pratt

March 4, 2020

Pennsylvania is now able to test for coronavirus. The health department announced yesterday [Tuesday] that samples will be processed by a state lab in Exton.

But as WLVR’s Tyler Pratt reports, there’s a limit on how many tests it can do.

If someone in Pennsylvania has recently traveled to China or thinks they have been exposed to the virus, State Health Secretary Rachel Levine says they should contact their healthcare provider.  

“Depending on the clinical judgement of the physician and the judgement of our epidemiologist we can do a test on anybody if we think it’s indicated,” says Levine.

Before this week almost all tests in the U.S. were done by the CDC in Atlanta. The test – a throat swab that goes through the nose – can be conducted by a local doctor. Then, it’s sent to a lab in Exton. Dr. Levine says the test can have a quick turnaround, but notes capacity is extremely limited. 

“We can do approximately a half dozen tests per day. But we are expecting some new equipment by the end of the week to significantly increase that,” says Levine.

Dr. Levine says private labs throughout the state are still awaiting FDA approval to conduct more tests, which may speed up the process. 

Currently there are no known cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania.

For a full list of our reports and resources, visit WLVR.org/health.


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