El Paso Public Health lab can now test respiratory samples for suspected Coronavirus cases


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso is now home to one of only 120 domestic laboratories part of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tasked with testing respiratory samples for the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

While the El Paso Public Health Department says there are no cases of COVID-19 in El Paso, DPS is working hand in hand with other state, local, and federal officials to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Our ability to test for COVID-19 here in El Paso will greatly reduce the turnaround time to get results for a patient. If we ship out samples, it will take up to 72 hours to receive results, but testing here will shorten that time to as little as four hours,” said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director.

As part of the LRN distinction, the laboratory is equipped to respond to bioterrorism, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies. Their Biosafety Level-3 certification allows the lab to handled samples with proper measures in place to protect the Medical Laboratory Scientists and the community. The department has experience with emerging diseases, particularly Ebola and Zika testing.

“As an LRN Laboratory, we are proud to have the confidence of the CDC to be given immediate access to Emergency Use Authorization testing for the City of El Paso,” said Darlene Tarango, Laboratory Manager. “The community can rest assured we are on the forefront of protecting their health and safety.”

DPH officials continue to stress individual prevention strategies against infection including practicing the 4 C’s. This includes COVERING your cough and sneezes, CLEANING your hands often by practicing good handwashing techniques, CONTAINING the spread of disease by staying home if you are sick, and CALLING your health care provider if you are ill and experiencing flu-like symptoms with a high fever.

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