COVID-19 testing in the Central Valley is about to ramp up.
Saint Agnes Medical Center and Community Medical Centers will do on-site testing starting next week.
Cepheid GenXpert Analyzer
Saint Agnes already has equipment on-site and will soon receive the test kits.
“We will be using the Cepheid GenXpert analyzer which we currently use for flu testing. We will be adding the Covid-19 test kit to this analyzer. We expect to have the testing ready and available the week of April 13,” said Kelley Sanchez, a Saint Agnes spokeswoman. “When it is, results should be turned around within an hour. We still plan to prioritize testing for patients at highest risk.”
It is a rapid, real-time test intended for the detection of nucleic acid from the SARS-CoV-2 in either swab and, or nasal wash specimens collected from individuals suspected of COVID-19.
Community Medical Centers
Community Medical expects to process tests within about a week.
“Community is expanding our lab services to include rapid COVID-19 test processing to reduce the time many Valley residents are experiencing when awaiting test results,” said Michelle Von Tersch, the senior vice president for communications and legislative affairs. “Community is among many hospitals across the nation awaiting necessary testing supplies and equipment to process COVID-19 test results.”
Urgent Care in North Fresno Testing for COVID-19
GV Wire called Accelerated Urgent Care at Blackstone and Herndon avenues in Fresno and confirmed it is doing COVID-19 testing. The facility has a sign outside advertising for COVID-19 testing.
These are not the rapid tests sought by area hospitals.
A representative GV Wire spoke with over the phone confirmed the urgent care facility will screen patients suspected of having COVID-19 first. Then only patients who meet the screening standard will be tested for the coronavirus.
Cepheid Receives Emergency Use Authorization From FDA
Cepheid Inc., based in Sunnyvale, received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for Xpert® Xpress for the qualitative detection of the virus causing COVID-19.
In a press release, Cepheid President Warren Kocmond said that “Cepheid currently has nearly 5,000 GeneXpert® Systems in the US capable of point-of-care testing and for use in hospitals. Our automated systems do not require users to have specialty training to perform testing — they are capable of running 24/7, with many systems already doing so today.”
U.S. Regulators Say Home Testing Is Still Too Risky
U.S. regulators have stopped companies that quickly launched home-testing kits until they can show their products can accurately detect the virus.
For now, the only way Americans can get tested is at hospitals, clinics or drive-thru sites, with a doctor’s order.
After a botched rollout, testing in the U.S. has ramped up thanks to high-volume testing machines and new rapid tests. Last week, federal officials said total tests topped 1.4 million, and labs are processing nearly 100,000 tests daily. That’s the threshold many experts say is needed to track the virus.
For now, only a healthcare professional can order a coronavirus test. Under current guidelines, priority is given to people with COVID-19 symptoms who fall into several high-risk groups, including hospitalized patients, health care workers and the elderly.
Health officials warn a number of things could go wrong if consumers try to swab, store and ship their own samples, potentially resulting in testing errors and undetected infections.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)