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Coronavirus Update: Northwell Health Labs On Long Island Gets Approval, Test Results To Come Much Faster

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- One of the nation's largest hospital labs began semi-automated testing Wednesday for the novel coronavirus, multiplying their ability to get results.

This as the number of positive tests continue to rise on Long Island. Nassau County has 28, including one in critical condition, while Suffolk County has six cases, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.

There's now a machine that will quickly process coronavirus tests, a dramatic ramping up from just days ago when only manual testing was available on Long Island.

CORONAVIRUS: CDC Latest | NY Health Dept. | NYC Health Dept. | NY Hotline: 1-888-364-3065 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Hotline: 1-800-222-1222 | CT Hotline: 211

Now, Northwell Health Labs technicians no longer have to manually run the tedious test one at a time.

"This test will definitely be a game changer, because it allows us to ramp up form doing dozens of tests a day to hundreds of tests a day, increase our capacity quite a bit," Dr. Greg Berry said.

Symptomatic patients can get results faster, improving containment of the virus. Containment is the goal and Suffolk County offered the following advice for seniors:

"We really want our seniors to be careful about going into large crowds, large gatherings. We prefer our seniors stay home as much as possible and go out in limited amounts of time," Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said.


Nassau County officials revealed school districts are all preparing for e-learning, should they need to close for an extended time.

"We are confident that the children, although it may not be exactly the education you would expect, will have some degree of continuity of education their families in their homes," Rockville Centre School District Superintendent Bill Johnson said.

"Create a climate of normalcy in this abnormal situation. It's uncharted waters," said Dr. Robert Dillon of Nassau County BOCES.

Officials are also calling for rumor control.

"Exercise responsibility relating to rumors, social media, and verify fact information form verified sources," Freeport School District Superintendent Dr. Kishore Kunsham said.

MORE: Coronavirus Update: 2 Long Island School Bus Drivers Test Positive, 80 Children On Routes Exposed

Faster testing and more testing are also intended to calm a jittery public. Nasal and throat swab samples are placed into a cartridge and then loaded into a machine, with more accurate results.

"You put it in a machine, it cooks for two and a half hours, and a result comes out the other side," said Dr. Dwayne Breining of Northwell Health Labs.

The equipment and approvals needed for full automation are expected in two weeks. That will allow for thousands of tests to be processed per day.

Nassau County continues to crack down on price gouging, handing out $5,000 and $10,000 fines to stores that are selling hand sanitizer at a highly inflated price.

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