Portable devices at some hospitals produce coronavirus test results in minutes

MIAMI – Getting tested for COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, is becoming much easier with a device Gov. Ron DeSantis referred to on Monday as a game-changer during the pandemic.

The portable ID NOW device, which is the size of a toaster, has been used to test for Influenza A and B, Strep A and the respiratory syncytial virus. Abbott Laboratories, an Illinois-based company, adapted it to test for the new coronavirus, also known as the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Facilities that already own the device, need to buy a $40 cartridge to detect the virus’ genetic signatures from a sample taken from the patient’s throat and nose.

According to Abbot, each device can run about four tests per hour, and results for some patients can be produced as quickly as 5 minutes after the test.

DeSantis said the test could increase hospital capacity and efficiency when it comes to deciding, which hospital employees need to isolate.

“When you have to wait 48-72 hours for a test result, those are people that you got to keep in the hospital,” DeSantis said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Abbott Laboratories emergency use on the ID NOW device on March 27. The Cleveland Clinic and the Memorial Healthcare System have devices.

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