The Fresno County Public Health lab was damaged in a flood back in 2019, so the county was sending its potential COVID-19 specimen to Tulare County’s Public Health Lab for analysis. But a partnership with Fresno State now means Fresno County will be able to process tests locally.
Standing outside of the Jordan Agricultural Research Center, Fresno State President Joseph Castro announced that the center will become a testing facility for COVID-19.
“I regularly encourage our students, faculty and staff to ‘be bold.’ This action by Fresno State to support our community is fully consistent with that philosophy,” said Castro.
Interim County Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said the lab will have the capacity to analyze up to 60 specimens a day, and he expects it to operate for at least three months.
“So it’s not just the number of tests, it’s the turnaround time,” said Vohra. “Whenever you have a patient that’s waiting for a test, if they’re hospitalized, you have to remember, we have to assume that they are COVID-positive.”
That positive assumption requires medical staff to use a lot of personal protective equipment, said Vohra. For those recovering at home, not knowing one’s result can put a strain on families if a member has to self-isolate.
The lab will be staffed by five people: a mix of County Public Health and Fresno State lab technicians, though Castro clarified that students are not working in the lab.
Until now, some Fresno County patients said they waited a week or more for results. Vohra said the in-county lab means some patients will get results within the same day.
The county isn’t the only entity ramping up its lab capacity. Last week, Community Regional Medical Center also started analyzing COVID-19 tests in-house. The hospital can process about 280 tests a day, but hopes to increase its capacity to 2,000 a day over the next month.