South Florida hospitals and long-term-care facilities this week will begin to receive coronavirus tests that will provide results in just five to 13 minutes.
The tests, which health officials are referring to as a “game-changer,” will be available at some hospitals in our region on Monday. As more of the tests are made, they should also become available at drive-thru testing sites.
Cleveland Clinic Florida, Memorial Healthcare and Broward Health are among the South Florida hospital systems to have the tests already.
“Those tests will be prioritized to caregivers, to inpatients and to nursing home patients to ensure they are virus-free before they go back to a nursing home,” says Cleveland Clinic CEO Wael Barsoum.
Meanwhile, Cleveland Clinic will continue to conduct traditional testing at its four drive-thru sites, where it will still take an average of two or three days to get results.
The hospitals bought the tests directly from Abbott Laboratories, a global health care manufacturer.
On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he has asked that some of the rapid tests Abbot is producing also be sold to nursing homes and adult living facilities throughout the state.
“They could be used on staff and at least to do some spot checks of residents to see if this virus is penetrating any of their facilities,” DeSantis said. “Many of you know there is a crush on medical supplies and these tests are in demand. We will get whatever we can get for the state. We are working to see if some of those can be applied in a way that can directly protect senior citizens.”
Abbott says it is producing 50,000 tests a day and will them ship daily to more customers in more places, with plans to increase manufacturing to eventually produce 2 million tests a month by June.
In addition, Baptist Health South Florida has has developed a test in house to get results in 24 hours. “Rapid turnaround time for testing is particularly important with cancer patients,” said Dr. Guenther Koehne, deputy director at Baptist Health’s Miami Cancer Institute.