Coronavirus test kits expected to arrive this week at Central Florida clinic

Testing for the coronavirus may soon get more accessible and quicker.

Local clinics report that COVID-19 test kits are starting to arrive so they can perform rapid tests for the virus in-house.

Officials at Premier Medical Associates in The Villages say they have qualified to receive a batch of the kits and are expecting them to show up this week.

Doctors plan to start administering the tests to patients early next week.

"It's been the topic for really everyone at the top of their lips as soon as they walk in through the door,” said Dr. Sundeep Shah.

Shah said the test should be a lot like the flu tests they currently administer to patients where doctors swab inside the patient’s nose and then test the sample against control samples to get a preliminary result.

A swab for the rapid flu test. Doctors expect COVID-19 tests will be very similar.

He said, like with the flu, positive tests would then be forwarded to a state or CDC lab for confirmation.

Representatives for the Florida Department of Health said the tests are expected to start showing up at commercial labs this week.

Representatives for both LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics said on their websites that they began testing samples sent to them by doctors this week.

Both of the major labs ask patients not to come directly to their locations to seek out tests.

“LabCorp is now able to perform several thousand tests per day and is rapidly adding new equipment and staff to create additional capacity,” said LabCorp representatives in an email Tuesday. “We continue reviewing all opportunities to expand testing at LabCorp lab facilities across the country. LabCorp’s test detects the presence of the underlying virus that causes COVID-19 and is for use with patients who meet current guidance for testing.”

Dr. Sundeep Shah from Premier Medical Associates in The Villages.

Dr. Shah echoes the last part of that statement in plans for testing at Premier.

"We don't want people just walking in off the streets and saying, 'I wanna be swabbed for coronavirus.' There has to be some symptoms. There has to be some risk factors,” he said.

Shah said, like the CDC and state guidelines up until now, they will only test patients with symptoms who have traveled to countries with the illness or have another major link to COVID-19.

Representatives at Premier also said they will test for any other possible illnesses, mainly the flu, first before resorting to the COVID-19 test.