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Coronavirus testing at Upstate University Hospital could begin in weeks

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Ellen Abbott
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WRVO Public Media
Upstate Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Stephen Thomas.

Upstate University Hospital officials are hoping coronavirus testing can be up and running on the central New York campus in a matter of weeks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this past weekend that Upstate was one of several places across the state that can begin local testing for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Stephen Thomas said Upstate’s microbiology lab will get the testing up and running.

“You got to order the equipment and get the machines,” Thomas said. “In this instance, there's two machines you have to get. You have to get materials from Wadsworth. You got to get set up. You got to go through the validation process of testing that secret panel. Getting data from the FDA and getting the result back. But I anticipate it will be weeks, hopefully just a few weeks.”

Ultimately the FDA needs to approve testing at Upstate. Thomas said more testing locations like this will take the burden off the Wadsworth lab in Albany that’s doing much of the testing now. Being able to test locally will also mean quicker results. He anticipates that local physicians will determine who will be tested initially, based on clinical examinations. And if a major outbreak of COVID-19 turns up in central New York, he said only individuals with severe cases of the respiratory virus will be tested.