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Public health labs to gain ability to test for Coronavirus


SALINAS, Calif. (KION) Officials at the Monterey County Public Health Laboratory said they expect they will soon be able to test for coronavirus.

"Right now, It's taking 24 hours to ship the specimen, another 24 to 48 hours to do the testing, before we receive the results," said Monterey County Public Health Lab Director, Donna Ferguson.

According to Dr. Edward Moreno with the Monterey County Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is currently the only agency with the ability to test for Coronavirus.

Ferguson said, so far, staff at the lab have not received a positive test for the Coronavirus in Monterey County.

Soon, Ferguson expects the process required to receive those results to be a lot quicker. Ferguson said the CDC is working to provide proper testing materials to public health labs. "They are working really hard to validate and develop the test method. They expect that will happen in the next two weeks, maybe sooner," said Ferguson.

Staff at the Monterey County lab said they are fortunate to have the right space and technology to support Coronavirus testing. Monterey County is home to a BioSafety Level #3 lab. Ferguson said the space could be used for testing of the Coronavirus.

"It's dangerous, but how can you help it? People are traveling all over the world. We just have to take the right precautions," said Salinas resident, Hilbert Bryce.

The first case of Coronavirus in the Bay Area was confirmed, Friday. Now only a county away, residents on the Central Coast said they are worried.

"It's a little concerning that it's so close. I have high schoolers and we talk about having good hygiene and washing our hands a lot," said Salinas resident, Jennifer Ibarra.

Staff at the lab said being proactive in the study and prevention of the virus will be the best way to stop potential spread.

"We're seeing person to person transmission. Thankfully at a low rate. It's possible that it could escalate," said Ferguson.

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Megan Meier

Megan Meier is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.


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