INDIANAPOLIS, Ind – Doctors across the state of Indiana are learning this week that testing for the coronavirus (COVID-19) will soon be available at private laboratories.
LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics are receiving coronavirus test kits, but it’s still not clear how many of the tests have already arrived in the state.
“I think it’s encouraging,” said Columbus Regional Health spokesperson Kelsey Declue. “It definitely shows the work and effort, the mobilization that’s constantly happening for Indiana and our communities to be able to react to this evolving situation. So it’s certainly a step in the positive direction.”
Until now, the only options for Hoosiers to be tested for coronavirus was through state labs with authorization from the Indiana Department of Health. County health departments do not have the ability to order or administer tests for COVID-19. Testing at state labs is determined by CDC guidelines, which include questions about travel and possible exposure to others who were infected with the coronavirus.
“The health department would be very interested in doing COVID-19 testing on a county level,” said Marion County Health Department spokesperson Curt Brantingham in a statement. “But, would need to evaluate the cost and availability of tests, if that opportunity becomes available. Until then, we will continue to work closely with the Indiana State Department of Health on any testing and guidance related to COVID-19.”
Making tests available at the private labs could give doctors more flexibility in testing patients they suspect could be infected with coronavirus.
Declue pointed out that she can’t speak for other doctors around the state, but physicians in her network will still follow CDC guidelines in deciding which patients should be tested.
“Options like this make it easier on facilities, hospitals, in-patient, out-patient facilities such as ourselves to be able to offer another set of options to speed up the process when it’s necessary,” Declue said.
It’s still not known how many of the tests are being made available to LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics in Indiana. Representatives for both companies could not provide specific numbers but said they are currently expanding their capacities.
“What I can say is that LabCorp continues to perform its 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) test and to increase test capacity for patients who should be tested,” a LabCorp representative said in a statement. “We are working closely with the CDC, FDA and others on a swift response to address this public health crisis.”
“We are also scaling capacity now with the aim to validate and perform testing at other Quest Diagnostics high-complexity laboratories serving the United States,” a statement from Quest Diagnostics said. “We expect to be able to perform tens of thousands of tests a week within the next six weeks.”
Both companies note that patients being tested for coronavirus should not be sent to LabCorp or Quest Diagnostic labs. Doctors should collect test samples and send them to the labs for analysis.