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Wichita State opens high-volume COVID-19 test lab

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita State University marked the opening of a high-volume COVID-19 test lab called the Molecular Diagnostics Lab with a ribbon-cutting and remarks from Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Monday.

It happened at the John Bardo Center on Wichita State’s Innovation Campus. 

The new lab would be able to process thousands of tests in less than 24 hours. Right now, Sedgwick County samples are sent to out-of-state labs, with processing being both costly and slow. The lab expects to offer a 24-hour turnaround on both nasopharyngeal swab test and saliva test results – all delivered through a patient digital portal – in order to get residents back to school and work faster.

“Along with wearing masks, socially distancing, and avoiding mass gatherings, we know that an increase in COVID-19 testing capacity is one of the most important tools we can leverage to mitigate the virus’ spread,” Kelly said.

Gov. Kelly said rapid, high-volume testing for COVID-19 will keep Kansas schools, businesses, and government open.

“With a coordinated strategy, we can identify hotspots before they spread out of control and make sure that Kansans can take proper safety precautions or avoid locations where the virus is present. We can help provide certainty that our schools and our businesses can stay open safely,” she said. “That’s why this new high-volume testing center is so significant, particularly here in Sedgwick County and this the surrounding region, which are home to some of our largest employers and school districts in Kansas.”

The lab’s building was originally used by Boeing six months ago, but now it’s a fully operational COVID-19 lab.

Local leaders say they teamed up with area partners to get the specialized testing equipment in early. That equipment is not usually available until 2021.

“The community needs to reopen,” said Dr. Joel Alderson, president of South Central Pathology. “We need to go back to work and to school. To do that, we need to be able to test not only symptomatic people, but asymptomatic people.”

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said a shorter wait time for results is a game-changer.

“Allowing your mother, grandmother, people who would be at-risk folks, allowing them to have quick turnaround testing is going to allow them to have piece of mind.”

Patients whose tests are sent to the WSU lab will receive their test results through a notification on their cell phone.

The lab is not open to the public and tests are processed through partnerships through local doctor’s offices and clinics.

For more information about testing, call 211 or contact your health provider. If you are a health care provider and would like to work with the WSU lab, call 316-978-8600 or email mdl@wichita.edu.

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