Rapid COVID-19 testing ramping up

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DENVER (KDVR) — Susie Huxford wishes rapid testing existed when she got tested for COVID-19 on March 13.

Eleven days later, the 54-year old-real estate agent in Eagle still doesn’t have her results.

“Where are my tests? Can’t somebody track them down? At least tell me, ‘Hey, Susie, we lost your tests,'” said Huxford, who got tested at the Urgent Care Center in Gypsum.

Most health care providers in Colorado sent their tests to Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, which are often taking at least four to five days to get results.

Now, new labs are promising quicker turnarounds with new test methods.

Mesa Biotech uses a two-part test that produces point-of-care results in 30 minutes. The San Diego company can send 5,000 test kits a day to healthcare provides across the country. By next week, the company says it will be able to send out 10,000 test kits a day that doctors and nurses can use on-site without sending the kit to an out-of-state lab for results.

The kit comes with two swabs: one for the throat and one for the nose. The samples are then placed in a cartridge which provides a positive or negative reading in 30 minutes.

“I think if you have a way to triage patients early on or at the actual site, that’s going to alleviate some of the things and pressures that hospitals are having today,“ said Steven Sepulveda, vice president of Global Business Development for Mesa Biotech.

An Orlando company called MicroGen Diagnostics has also just won FDA emergency use authorization to send its test kits to health care providers across the country.

Its test requires patients to spit phlegm into a cup that is sealed and sent to a lab in Lubbock, Texas. Results are available within 24 hours. Just like Mesa Biotech, Microgen Diagnostics is sending out 5,000 test kits a day with the ability to process 10,000 samples a day by the end of next week.

 “The minute a patient is positive, that allows you to put that patient into isolation,“ said Rick Martin, the CEO of MicroGen Diagnostics.

Both Martin and Sepulveda said their labs are anxious to work with Colorado health care providers on a first-come, first-served basis.

Huxford said she’s starting to feel better but not knowing her COVID-19 status has been frustrating.

“I just want to know if I’m positive or negative. If I was negative, I could go about my business. I lost a listing because of it,” said the real estate agent.

On Tuesday afternoon, Quest Diagnostics said it can currently process 25,000 tests daily. That capacity is set to increase to 30,000 daily by the end of the week. However, the turnaround time for results will still average four to five days.

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