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Sedgwick County Commission votes to move forward with COVID-19 saliva testing

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 4:12 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Sedgwick County Commission voted on Thursday to move forward with a rapid response saliva test with a clinical reference laboratory in Lenexa, Kansas.

The Harvard Global Health Institue recommends Sedgwick County test 2,234 tests on a daily basis. Right now the county is testing 800 people each day. Upon recommendation from Dr. Elizabeth Ablah with KU School of Medicine, county staff will begin to develop a transition plan for providers in Sedgwick County to achieve the testing goal.

“We’re going to be testing a lot in the near future, and it what our goal has been. Not only testing, but rapid testing, and rapid results, and rapid communication. The 7-10 day lag time has not been good,” said Commissioner Pete Meitzner.

While the lab would increase testing drastically in Sedgwick County, it doesn’t necessarily solve the issue with speed. The samples would still have to be sent to a lab in Lenexa for testing, which means it would still take about 3-4 days to get results back.

For that, commissioners agreed to move forward in partnership with Wichita State University for nasopharyngeal swab testing and saliva testing, first reimbursing WSU for expenses that have already been incurred – up to $1.5 million which will create a local lab capacity for Sedgwick County. Results would then be available within a day.

”The key is speed, anytime you buy anything or do any type of test the key is speed right, you want to see your test results back. So the laboratory we propose will return tests we hope within 24 hours,” said NIAR executive director, Dr. John Tomblin.

Currently, the Health Department continues to offer nasopharyngeal swab sampling to symptomatic residents and high-priority professions like healthcare professionals, corrections officers, first responders, and law enforcement officers.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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