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Wright-Patterson has kit to test DOD personnel for coronavirus

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By THOMAS GNAU AND KAITLIN SCHROEDER | Dayton Daily News, Ohio | Published: March 7, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — Wright Patterson Air Force Base has a COVID-19 medical testing kit, according to the Ohio Department of Health and the base.

Base testing will be authorized only for Department of Defense beneficiaries, the base said.

"The Epidemiology Reference Laboratory at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) has received a kit for testing purposes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is authorized to test DoD (Department of Defense) beneficiaries," Wright-Patterson said in a statement Friday.

"As part of the Air Force Research Laboratory's 711th Human Performance Wing, USAFSAM's team has proven experience testing respiratory infection samples and working with the CDC processes," the base also said. "This lab is the only Air Force Clinical Laboratory chosen by the Defense Health Agency to test Department of Defense populations for COVID-19."

Lab tests samples will be sent to the Wright-Patterson lab by military treatment facilities around the globe, according to the base.

It is hoped that having testing kits in Ohio will speed up the time it takes to tell if someone is sick from the coronavirus outbreak.

A confirmed case of the respiratory virus, COVID-19, has not been announced in Ohio but as of Friday afternoon, but there were 100,647 confirmed cases worldwide, with 80,573 in mainland China. There were 236 people confirmed to sick with the virus in the U.S.

There have been 3,411 deaths and 55,753 people have recovered.

Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said Thursday that test kits have just arrived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She said the Ohio Department of Health will be ready to start testing by this weekend after a calibrating process. The kits mean results will be available within one or two days for people with cases under investigation.

Having test kits available locally should mean faster turnarounds in securing test results, officials say.

"Having tests available in Ohio is going to make that a much more rapid response for us," said Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson.

Three people are being tested for the new coronavirus in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Health said Thursday afternoon. There are no confirmed cases in the state so far.

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