CHICAGO (CBS) — As the United States desperately scrambles to find enough tests for COVID-19, a hospital in Evanston has developed one that can provide results in just a few hours.
The test, created in the Molecular Lab at North Shore University Health System, Evanston Hospital, was first used last Thursday. The lab has conducted 400 tests to day, with 10 percent testing positive for COVID 19. The hospital aims to be able to test 1,000 by next week. It has been used mostly for their hospital patients, but it has been made available for some patients at other hospitals as well.
“We started in January watching this knowing that we would not have enough tests,” said Dr. Karen Kaul.
Many patients, even if they can get a test, have to wait days for results. The Evanston Hospital test is much faster with results in four to six hours. Researchers take a swab specimen from deep inside the patient’s nose and are able to determine whether it contains DNA from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Evanston is one of only a handful of hospitals in the United States that has developed a diagnostic test for COVID 19. Researchers there also developed a test for H1N1 during that outbreak 12 years ago.
“On the front lines are the hospitals that need to make decision that day about whether a patient get isolated of sent home,” Kaul said. “I think we are still underprepared.I think we will see massive volumes of patients needing testing in the coming weeks.”
There are 105 cases of COVID 19 in Illinois so far, but that number is expected to go much higher as more testing becomes available. The disease causes flu-like symptoms, but is more virulent in certain patients, especially the elderly. In others, the symptoms are mild. All the patients in the reported cases in Illinois are recovering.