Missoula County speeding up COVID-19 test results

COVID-19 Testing
Posted at 5:20 PM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-01 10:54:38-04

The Missoula City-County Health Department says it will soon be getting a new machine to speed up testing.

The machine will be able to process test results in as little as 15 minutes.

The Missoula county COVID-19 test site officially moved into its new building this week.

Officials say it's only about an eight-minute process.

Cars just drive in, get checked in, and the tests are done inside the building. Then the tests are sent to a lab.

But Missoula City-County Health Officer Ellen Leahy said earlier this summer, delays in labs mean it took weeks for people to get test results back.

According to Leahy there are still 350 tests that haven't come back yet, and she says that is unacceptable.

That's why the health department arranged to get a quick test machine, called an Abbott machine. It can process results on-site in minutes, cutting out the need for labs.

"That gives you that much more real-time information. This is really important not only for the person who's concerned that they may have COVID, of course but for the control measure that we need to take," Leahy said.

Leahy says the goal is to identify, interview, and quarantine close contacts within 24 hours of finding out about a case, and this new machine will also help with that.

Leahy says officials are waiting on a protective hood to arrive in the mail before they set up the machine.