MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU Medicine hopes to be able to begin testing coronavirus cases itself this week.


Albert Wright

“That’s a big deal because it allows us to quickly get test results back so we can rule patients in or out, and when we have staff members potentially exposed, we have to clear those staff members to be able to work,” WVU Medicine President and CEO Albert Wright said Saturday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Both WVU Medicine and Mon Health opened a drive-thru test clinics in Morgantown last week.

Monongalia County Health Department Threat Preparedness Program Manager Jamie Moore predicted the number of tests are going increase dramatically.

“There’s going to hundreds and hundreds of tests starting to be completed each day,” Moore said. “The more we look, the more we’re going to find, but the more we find the more understanding we’ll have for better information for the public to have and better information for first responders to work with.”

WVU Medicine Vice President and WVU Health Sciences Executive Dean Dr. Clay Marsh said the state of emergency declaration has helped them shore up supplies of protective equipment and supplies.“The governor, the DHHR, the military procurement connectors with Jim Hoyer have allowed us to start to build a reserve,” Marsh said. “That will be really helpful and really important.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin has also helped get the private sector involved to help, according to Marsh.

“We got connected with Abbott Laboratories in part through Senator Joe Manchin’s office and they are ready and willing to give us test kits where we can do 400 samples, and we can do them in a very high throughput way,” he said.

One concern for Marsh is the availability of Italian-made test swabs.

“Since Italy had so many problems they reduced their production,” Marsh said. “We’re scrambling trying to find more and working with our partners to find more access to those because that is quickly going to become the limiting part of the test.”

Marsh says in-house testing should be fully in place in about one week.

In the meantime, Marsh said if 90 percent of people can stay home and practice social distancing we will reduce the strain on the healthcare system and improve outcomes across the board.

“If we do 90 percent for as little as probably two weeks, maybe more even less or a little more, we might be able to take that tsunami down to a stream.” Marsh said. “We may really miss the direct hit from this and be the envy of the rest of the country.”