Sample backlog forces state lab in Harlingen to prioritize certain virus tests

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HARLINGEN – In March, a Harlingen lab became the first location in the Rio Grande Valley where samples from patients could get tested for the coronavirus. However, now, as cases continue to rise, many elected officials have noted a slowdown in results.

Dr. Emily Prot, Region 11 director for the Department of State Health Services, explained the lab currently processes 20 to 30 tests per day, each taking 48 to 72 hours to process.

The DSHS director says the number of tests from across the Valley has forced the lab to prioritize certain cases – those being samples from patients being hospitalized.

With its equipment, the Harlingen state-run lab maxes out at 40 tests a day. Officials lowered it to 30 tests in an effort to save reagent, the chemical mixture used to test for the virus.

Watch the video above for the full report.


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