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California could begin broader screening with rapid virus tests


SACRAMENTO, California (AP) – California’s typical turnaround time for coronavirus testing has dropped to less than two days, state health officials said Thursday, a sign that allows for effective isolation and quarantine of those who are infected. to limit the spread.

Test results are now available from labs within 1.3 days on average, down from the five to seven business days officials commonly reported last month.

“To really stop that broadcast, it needs to happen in a timely manner,” said Dr. Erica Pan, a state health official. “It’s a huge progress.”

Two-thirds of test results are now returned within one day and 88 percent within two days, Pan said. The one-day average has improved 13% since last week and is down from an average statewide turnaround of nearly four days in early August.

The improvement comes when the state plans to significantly ramp up testing starting this fall. The goal is more than double the average of nearly 104,000 tests per day now to 250,000 by March under a $ 1.4 billion contract announced last month with a Massachusetts company.

Substantial improvements in capacity and turnaround will allow the state to begin what are commonly referred to as surveillance tests early, Pan said. The goal is to refine the tests so that they target the right people and allow health officials to better predict the disease’s trace.

He said state officials will soon publish new guidelines for that test.

California’s infection rate has been steadily declining for weeks and now stands at 3.5% for the past seven days. Admissions and ICU admissions have also declined, with 1,040 people in ICU a low that was not seen closely at the start of the pandemic.

There were 137 deaths reported Wednesday and California is on the brink of 14,000 since the outbreak began, the third most in the country. But fewer ICU cases are expected to lower the death rate in the coming weeks.

The new four-tier state system to allow counties to reopen operations and expand operations is based on reducing infection rates and cases. Counties are penalized if they do not test enough people.

This is what’s happening in Riverside County, and local authorities have urged more than 2.2 million residents to take the test. The county can test 4,000 people a day, but only half of the available slots are filled. This is causing the state to adjust its case rate to a higher level which makes it more difficult to move to a lower level.

“We have made a lot of progress in slowing the spread of the disease and we want residents to know that further testing will help us continue to stop the spread of the virus,” said Kim Saruwatari, county public health director. “We need to resume our tests, both in order to isolate the sick and to help us reopen more parts of our community safely.”

For most people, coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, particularly the elderly and people with existing health problems, it can cause more serious illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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