ARIZONA NEWS

Commercial lab testing for coronavirus begins in Arizona

Mar 18, 2020, 4:25 AM | Updated: 9:18 am
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)...
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

PHOENIX — Commercial labs have begun testing for the coronavirus in Arizona.

The Arizona State Public Health Laboratory is leading testing for COVID-19 across the state, with a capacity to test up to 450 people each day. But commercial testing has now started as well, including by the Mayo Clinic.

In a statement sent to KTAR News 92.3 FM, Mayo Clinic said it has set up “a mobile unit to collect samples for testing of our highly vulnerable Mayo Clinic patient population.”

“We are also supporting other providers in the Valley, sharing what we have learned, as they look to open their own alternative testing locations,” Mayo added in the statement.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute, or TGen, has also begun testing for COVID-19.

“Last week and this week we’ve been testing at the level of about 200 capacity per day,” Jeffrey Trent, president and research director for TGen, said at a press conference Monday. “By the end of next week that’ll change to about 1,000 a day.”

Last week, Sonora Quest Laboratories in collaboration with parent company Quest Diagnostics began testing samples of respiratory specimens for the the coronavirus. Sonora Quest is only testing samples sent to them by medical providers, including hospitals and doctor’s offices, and is not providing the testing at its patient service centers.

Christina Noble, chief customer officer at Sonora Quest Laboratories, said they have completed about 800 tests for the coronavirus so far and the typical turnaround time for results is 3-5 days from the time the specimen is collected.

“That I think is very positive considering the fact that we just started offering this service here last week,” she said.

Noble added a handful of their tests have resulted in positive cases of COVID-19.

There Arizona Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported there had been 20 coronavirus cases in the state.

Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for disease control for Maricopa County Public Health, said on Monday she expects to see those numbers “increasingly rapidly” this week and the coming weeks as more commercial laboratory tests become available.

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