UPMC to offer its own test for COVID-19 | News, Sports, Jobs



A diagnostic test for the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been developed by UPMC, the health system reported Saturday.

Plans are underway to “rapidly increase capacity at its central laboratory” at UPMC in Pittsburgh, where test samples “from hundreds of patients per week” will be able to be analyzed, the health system said in a news release.

Testing in Pittsburgh could begin as early as this week, health system officials said.

Diagnostic testing has already been in place at the state health level, but getting results can take several days. With the health system now developing its own diagnostic test, it is hoped that results will be known much sooner.

Also in the works is the establishment of “additional specimen-collection facilities” that will be set up at “at a yet undetermined date” in Williamsport and other cities in the state where UPMC medical campuses are located.

The additional test sites will likely be set up after UPMC sees how things go at its Pittsburgh lab and after the health system’s testing capacity increases.

Locally collected specimens “will safely be transported for testing to the UPMC Clinical Laboratories, the largest academic clinical lab in the country,” the news release said.

“UPMC may continue to send specimens to the state Department of Health’s laboratory in eastern Pennsylvania or health department labs in New York and Maryland as needed and for confirmation,” the release said.

UPMC Susquehanna’s specimen collection center is located in South Williamsport and is not open to the public, nor will any other sites that UPMC may open, officials said. Patients must have a doctor’s referral approved by its infection prevention team, and an appointment to have the specimen collected for testing by UPMC or public health authorities.

UPMC also announced Saturday that it will waive “all cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing” and “cover the full cost of diagnostic tests” through June 15 for all those who are “fully insured” in UPMC’s health insurance plan.

To have the costs covered, “fully-insured members also will have to meet all Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for testing,” UPMC officials said.

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