ND Department of Health will soon be able to test for coronavius in-state

Published: Feb. 26, 2020 at 3:48 PM CST
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The North Dakota Department of Health is partnering with the CDC to become the only in-state laboratory that can test patients for the coronavirus.

With more than a dozen people in the state being monitored for the coronavirus, the need for rapid testing is rising.

"If someone does need to be tested, that's going to be sent to the CDC at this time and then once we have the capability to test here, have those kits have validated here then we can actually have those done here," said Michelle Dethloff, program manager.

The Health Department's state laboratory is equipped with the materials needed for the testing. However the final pieces are being provided by the CDC.

"We have instrumentation to run the PCR part, but we don’t have the instrumentation that's required to do the extraction," said Stacy Alexander, program manager.

By giving states the validation to run test's themselves, the CDC is allowing a more rapid response by the state.

"If they are a case and they do test positive, the quicker we do that the quicker we can do our contact investigation and see who they've had contact with and make sure they start practicing social distancing," said Dethloff.

All kits provided by the CDC are covered by the program.

"All the testing that is done for the COVANT19 is being provided to us by the CDC so it’s not extra money coming from the tax payers," said Alexander.

For now, states are awaiting the final pieces to be sent to them in order to move forward with in-house testing.

"Once that part comes, we should be able to have that test up and running within the next couple of days," said Alexander.

Speeding up a time sensitive process, while giving the state a sense of security during a virus outbreak.

As of Wednesday, six people in North Dakota have been cleared of their 14 day quarantine, with eight still under surveillance.