Carbondale gets a coronavirus testing lab

SIU coronavirus testing site

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - In Carbondale, health officials are working on setting up the testing facility that will allow for quicker results and treatment of any possible coronavirus patients in southern Illinois.

Bart Hagston with the Jackson County Health Department said the health department is not taking any chances.

“The risk of someone in our area contracting the coronavirus is low,” Hagston said.

Hagston said the lab will speed the process for health providers.

“That means that specimens that are collected at hospitals will be able to be processed more quickly," Hagston said. "That way they will be able to know more definitively whether or not the patient that they have in their care needs to be treated and cared for with coronavirus or they simply have another respiratory illness.”

The lab that sits on Southern Illinois University’s campus. The facility is pretty restricted because it needs to be done in a room with a negative air pressure.

“Once they are collected there at the hospital, then they will work with public health to get approval on that specimen to be shipped to the Carbondale lab and be analyzed,” he said.

There are now three Illinois Department of Public Health labs that perform testing not only for the coronavirus, but also E. coli, measles, norovirus and more.

Hagston said they’ve been through this before with ebola scare, H1-N1 and even Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), so they are ready to take on this latest challenge.

“We are going to try and prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.

According to Jackson County Health Department, this testing facility is scheduled to be up and running this week.

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