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Dallas County Now Has The First Lab In Texas Testing For The New Coronavirus

scientist demonstrating test for new coronavirus
California Department of Public Health
Via Associated Press
The California Department of Public Health demonstrates the equipment and procedures that will be used at their lab in Richmond, Calif., to test for novel coronavirus. This is not an actual test of a novel coronavirus specimen.

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) now has the capability to test locally for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. It is the first lab in Texas to have local testing capability, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Until now, Dallas County had been sending off samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing, a process that took as long as 72 hours to yield results. Now, testing for the new coronavirus will take less than a day.

Jenkins said turnaround time will improve, but DCHHS is only able to process "a limited number of test kits per day."

Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said the department is focused on containment and prevention. At this time, there are no known cases of the new coronavirus in Dallas County.

"It's certainly not a time to panic," Huang said. "It's a time for everyone to continue to be prepared for any level of response we may need." 

Syeda Hasan is the Elections Editor and Reporter at KERA. Before moving into that role, she covered mental health at the station. A Houston native, her journalism career has taken her to public radio newsrooms around Texas.