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FSU, TMH will partner to open new processing lab for COVID-19 tests

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 17:52:47-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The surge in COVID-19 cases is increasing the number of people wanting to be tested but tests are not as easy to come by as they once were.

The increased demand has a wide impact from the number of tests being manufactured, administered, and processed in labs.

Now, Florida State University is working on a way to ease the burden for people waiting on test results.

FSU College of Medicine is partnering with Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare to open a lab for coronavirus test processing.

At FSU Primary Care, some are asking to be tested because employers are making the test mandatory. Others are concerned they could have the virus and not know.

"A lot of people had co-workers who tested positive or a friend who tested positive," said Dr. Daniel Van Durme, of FSU College of Medicine and Primary Care. "Some are close contact and some barely contact but they're concerned and they just want to get tested."

It can take days to find a test and then another week to get results.

"Initially we were getting responses back in two days," Van Durme said. "Now it's five days and waiting. So sometimes the backlog occurs after the collection is done that the labs just can't run the specimens through fast enough."

FSU is hopeful that its processing lab will cut down on the time people have to wait.

"We are confident that we will be able to run a thousand tests per day once it's fully functional," Van Durme said. "That will decrease the wait all over the place."

The lab will process tests taken from FSU and TMH.

The university is still only testing employees but says those numbers alone will make it easier for the other sites to get their tests processed quicker.

As people in our area start to recover, health leaders hope they can help others battling the virus.

"It's still essential that they wear their masks, they wash their hands, they practice social distancing," Van Durme said. "A negative test today might be a positive test tomorrow."

FSU is also preparing for students to return.

"There's a huge surge in the younger population, the college-age population," Van Durme said. "As FSU prepares itself to have that influx, that huge amount of students coming back in the next five or six weeks. We hope to have the majority of the faculty and students on campus already tested."

Students will be able to get tested at the university's site, meaning an increase in demand for the university in the next month or so.