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Lab in Rocky Hill reveals new capacity to test for coronavirus

Hospitals ready isolation rooms and protective gear to limit spread of coronavirus.

ROCKY HILL, Conn. — State officials announced Friday that they are better prepared than they were Thursday to test for Coronavirus.

Until Friday, patients who showed symptoms of Coronavirus and traveled to affected countries had to be tested, with the sample being analyzed by the CDC. That came with a five day turnaround time for results.

The state has announced they now have the capability to analyze the tests at a lab in Rocky Hill, cutting that wait time to just 24 hours. Getting answers is crucial, and now Connecticut will be able to get them faster.

The CDC and the FDA have approved Connecticut to analyze tissue samples. Doctor Stephanie Wright is the Interim Director of infectious Disease at Hartford Hospital. She said the testing involves swabs, “Inside the nose, in the throat and blood testing.”

A positive test lands you in a negative pressure isolation room. 

“The door would always be closed,” said Dr. Wright. There are 58 such rooms at Hartford Hospital alone. 

“It pulls the air out of the room and puts it out in the atmosphere,” said Wright. Hospitals also have the ability to convert some regular rooms into negative pressure rooms. 

“Airborne isolation is used not only for Coronavirus it’s used for some other illnesses too such as tuberculosis and measles,” said Doctor Wright.

To further limit the possibility of contamination, Doctor Wright says they would use as much disposable medical equipment as they can. But before a healthcare worker can interact with a patient, they need to be suited up with a gown, respirator mask, a face shield and gloves.

Doctor Wright said hospitals are working with their supply chain managers to see what they can do to obtain more supplies. They also have been given specific guidelines for contingency plans to reuse equipment if absolutely necessary.

Any positive test result specimens will also be sent to the CDC in Atlanta to further national investigation and response. There still are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Connecticut, and no patients in the state are currently under investigation for possible exposure.

And while medical professionals are brushing up on their infectious disease containment procedures, it’s not the first time they’ve had to implement them. They got practice with the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and a bad year of the flu in 2009.