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Pennsylvania Begins Coronavirus Testing At State-Owned Lab

coronavirus_covid_19_microscope_cells.jpg
NIAID-RML via AP
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This image provided by The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19.";

A Pennsylvania state laboratory is now able to handle about six tests per day for a new coronavirus that is sickening people across the globe, state health officials said Tuesday.

The state's health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said getting test results from the state-run lab in Exton is reducing the turn-around time significantly, making them typically available within about a day.

Levine encouraged people who fear they may have the COVID-19 illness to call their doctor or hospital. Those health care workers can determine the next steps and take a sample if testing is necessary.

The state lab is waiting for equipment that should increase its testing capacity, she said.

Levine said private labs are also likely to soon get federal permission to perform testing.

There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, where testing and tracking began about a month ago. There have been more than 100 COVID-19 cases in the United States and six deaths, all in Washington state.