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Fri Feb 28, 2020, 06:01 PM

Coronavirus Test Kits and How The Test Is Done

Hoping this is a photo of the correct COVID-19 test and not the ones the CDC labeled inadequate.

As of late Friday morning, The CDC website indicated that 451 coronavirus tests had been conducted nationwide.

What is a coronavirus test like? How are CDC kits handled? Here are the details.


The CDC on its website provides a photo of the lab test kit for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) the disease named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses that is caused by the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

The kit itself contains four small vials inside of a white box of packaging, all of which is bagged in plastic.


There are two main elements to a COVID-19 test, according to interim guidelines shared publicly by the CDC to clinicians.

The coronavirus is a respiratory disease, so the test kits take specimens from both the upper and lower respiratory tracts.

-- Tests in the lower respiratory tract include a branchoalveolar lavage, a minimally invasive procedure in which the clinician places a bronchoscope through the patient’s mouth or nose and into the lungs. A sterile fluid solution is squirted into a small part of the lung, and a specimen is collected for examination.

The patient then produces a sputum sample: “Have the patient rinse the mouth with water and then expectorate deep cough sputum directly into a sterile, leak-proof, screw-cap sputum collection cup or sterile dry container,” the CDC’s instructions read.

-- In the second test, for the upper respiratory tract, the clinician will swab the patient’s nostril as well as the throat. The test also collects a 2 to 3 milliliter specimen following a nasal “wash” or aspirate, which involves a soft, flexible tube in the nose.


These specimens are refrigerated until they can be shipped to the CDC for testing.

The kit is to be stored at 35-46 degrees Fahrenheit and kept at that temperature using an ice pack or dry ice as it is shipped to a CDC lab.


The CDC on its website says laboratory test kits are shipped “to laboratories CDC has designated as qualified, including U.S. state and local public health laboratories, Department of Defense (DOD) laboratories and select international laboratories,” the latter of which include facilities with the World Health Organization and Global Influenza Surveillance Response System.

The agency said this week that a protocol developed by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which “uses two of the three components of the original CDC test kit” to detect for the virus, will allow 40 additional public health labs to begin testing.

CA Governor Gavin Newsom said in Thursday’s news conference that the California Department of Public Health would be among those sites performing tests.


As of this week, healthcare providers have been testing patients for coronavirus only if they met the CDC’s set criteria for that patient to be considered a “person under investigation,” or PUI.

There are now three criteria that can be met to warrant lab testing, according to the CDC website. The third item was added Thursday under revised guidelines, as CDC Director Robert Redfield explained to congressional leaders.

-- Symptoms that include fever or coughing and shortness of breath, along with the epidemiological risk of having close contact with a lab-confirmed COVID-19 patient;

-- Symptoms that include fever and a cough or shortness of breath, along with a history of recent travel to coronavirus hot zones; or

-- A fever and severe symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as pneumonia, that require hospitalization, even with no source of exposure via travel or contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient.


The CDC does not specify the time frame for which results should be expected, but its guidelines call for the samples to be shipped overnight.

In the case of the patient being treated at UC Davis Medical Center, the positive diagnosis appears to have been received about three days after testing.


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Reply Coronavirus Test Kits and How The Test Is Done (Original post)
ancianita Feb 2020 OP
BigmanPigman Feb 2020 #1
ancianita Feb 2020 #2
TexasBushwhacker Feb 2020 #3
ancianita Feb 2020 #4

Response to ancianita (Original post)

Fri Feb 28, 2020, 06:07 PM

1. CNN just reported that CDC said if you get tested by mid-morning

they will have the results by the end of the same day.

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Response to BigmanPigman (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 28, 2020, 06:14 PM

2. Great, multiple labs will make this go faster per CDC's protocol. The #1 problem: test kit shortage.

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Response to ancianita (Original post)

Fri Feb 28, 2020, 07:35 PM

3. Wow, pretty invasive n/t

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