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State Health Lab Doing Own COVID-19 Tests, Incident Management Team Working On Response

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Virginia’s public health lab is beginning to do its own testing for the coronavirus, called COVID-19, instead of relying on tests from the federal government. 

The Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS), which is overseen by the Department of General Services, conducted the first two tests of suspected cases over the weekend. Those results came back negative. 

All other suspected cases in Virginia have come back negative as well. The Virginia Dept. of Health is currently monitoring about 100 people.

State officials say having testing available at the DCLS, compared to the federal labs, cuts down the time to report results from days to a matter of hours. 

DCLS does more than 9 million tests each year, to identify genetic and metabolic disorders in newborn children as well as to detect infectious and toxic chemicals. 

An Incident Management Team of public health and safety experts was also put together to plan Virginia’s response to the latest coronavirus. That’s according to a letter obtained by VPM News sent from Gov. Ralph Northam to state employees Monday, about how the state is responding to the spreading illness. 

The group formed in January, days after the first cases of the virus were identified in Asia. The letter says this team is meeting daily with government and private partners, to work on a comprehensive public information campaign, including “through the media, the internet, and a 211 call center.” 

“Plans are in place to coordinate needed supplies equitably, including personal protective equipment,” Northam said in the letter. “I have spoken with leaders in the General Assembly about the importance of having the necessary supplies in place, and we are united in providing the resources.” 

Health officials suggest if you’re sick, to avoid contact with others and to seek medical attention.

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