Pennsylvania now testing for coronavirus at state lab in Exton

Tony Romeo
March 03, 2020 - 4:39 pm

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A state-run laboratory in Exton is now testing for potential cases of the fast-spreading coronavirus, according to Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.

Up until now, all of the testing for coronavirus across the country had to first go through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now, the state can test swabbed samples from Pennsylvania residents on its own.

“This is a very important step for us, as we continue to work to provide timely updates to Pennsylvanians,” said Levine, who noted there are still no confirmed cases of the new virus in Pennsylvania. “Our state laboratory has the ability to meet the testing needs for now.”

Not only does the state no longer have to rely on the CDC for testing, but she expects the Food and Drug Administration to approve commercial labs to further expand the state's testing capacity.

Related:

Levine said Pennsylvania has resources to quarantine patients, if necessary, but she declined to provide more details. Likewise, the secretary declined to discuss how many potential cases are being monitored, citing privacy concerns. 

“The risk for any individual person in Pennsylvania is really quite low at this point,” she added. “But this is a rapidly developing situation, as we’ve seen in other states.”

As of Monday, roughly 90,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, and more than 3,000 have died. U.S. casualties — all in Washington state, as of Tuesday — have risen to nine. Other cases span across 14 states.

However, Levine said the risk for contracting the novel coronavirus is lower than coming down with the flu, which has produced more than 100,000 cases and 74 deaths in Pennsylvania so far this season.

If someone is experiencing symptoms or believes he or she may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, call 1-877-PA-HEALTH. The Pennsylvania Department of Health can answer questions and notify a hospital. If you plan on visiting your doctor regarding coronavirus, notify your physician ahead of time so that precautions can be made.

___

Map courtesy of NBC Owned Television Stations