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NCH receives more rapid tests; more needed; state recognizes importance

More rapid tests for the coronavirus are here in Southwest Florida. NCH Healthcare System said it received a limited number of tests for COVID-19 Friday that can get results back in 45 minutes. This comes just days after NCH sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

We spoke to local doctors about what they believe is the realistic amount of people we’d want to test in our communities.

A doctor at NCH told us they received 60 rapid testing kits. They say these tests are helpful, but 60 won’t last for too long.

“Ultimately, we need thousands,” said Dr. David Linder, the NCH medical director leading the COVID-19 response.

Linder says he would like to see a lot more of those tests.

“If I could turn around 100 to 200 a day, not only could I test all patients, but also patients who are asymptomatic carriers,” Linder said.

Still, this 45-minute testing is very helpful to health professionals responding to coronavirus patients.

“There are so many advantages to this type of test,” said Dr. Rebekah Bernard, the vice president of Collier County Medical Society. “The tests that we had before were to detect if the person had the active virus. This test gives us a lot more information like if they already had the virus.”

Bernard says this test could especially help the community.

“I think that would help a lot in areas that have a higher elderly community like Collier County,” Bernard said.

And that’s why the hospital originally sent a letter saying the lack of testing in our area makes community members vulnerable. And the governor announced today the state knows this is a priority. Gov. DeSantis called this testing a game changer. He said having these tests in all hospitals will give them more accuracy on how fast the virus is spreading.

“We are looking to get that available to all hospitals throughout the state,” DeSantis said.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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