Coronavirus Testing Capabilities Expanding In Tri-State Area

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The number of coronavirus cases continues to grow in the Tri-State, and part of the reason for that is an expansion in testing.

On Wednesday, New York State was reporting over 200 confirmed cases and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the number will only increase as testing abilities improve.

Here's a look at the process:


Northwell Health has received federal approval to conduct new coronavirus tests at its Lake Success laboratory on Long Island.

According to WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall, hundreds of tests can be conducted by the end of the week thanks to a semi-automated testing process that will be replacing the manual method.

The new process skips a step that involved measuring samples by hand, according to Dr. Dwayne Breining.

“It allows the tech – instead of having to do the pipetting and the measure at every step of the way – they can simple put a patient’s sample on that cartridge and then that cartridge goes into a machine,” he explains.

Dr. Breining says the machine resembles an old 8-track player.

“You put it in the machine, it cooks for about two, two and a half hours and a result comes out the other side,” he said.

Before the semi-automated system, the manual system was able to process 60 tests per day.

Right now, a doctor still has to order a coronavirus test and anyone who may have symptoms will be among the first to get the testing done.


In New Jersey, testing is being conducted once a patient is determined eligible for the test and doctors work quickly to retrieve three different samples from the patient.

“Nose, throat and sputum collection, which is someone coughing up the gunk in all our lungs,” explains Dr. Adam Jarrett, chief medical officer at Holy Name in Teaneck.

He says those samples help prevent false positives or false negatives. They get sent to a commercial lab, in this case, Lab Corp.

They are hoping to prevent patients from going to medical officers to get testing done so not to expose other people to the virus in the Emergency Room.

“Drive-by testing would be terrific and we have begun to think about that, but the major hurdle is the delay in getting the test result. The other major hurdle is: it's expensive,” explains Dr. Jarrett.

Right now, it takes about two to four days to get a result back in New Jersey.