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Sarasota Memorial patients waiting for coronavirus test results, hospital wants on-site testing

Posted at 7:16 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 19:16:17-05

SARASOTA, Fla. — Right now, nearly a dozen patients at Sarasota Memorial Hospital are waiting for coronavirus test results to return. But doctors at SMH want the ability to test patients themselves instead of sending the samples to Tampa to be tested.

"It takes three or four days to get the results back, that’s too long," said Vern Buchanan, U.S. Congressman.

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After learning about the positive coronavirus case in Sarasota, Congressman Buchanan is pushing for testing to be done locally.

"We need quicker, more reliable testing and it needs to get done here," said Buchanan, after a meeting with doctors at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

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Right now, tests for COVID-19 must be sent to Tampa and can take 3 to 4 days for results.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital says they want to test on-site.

"The quicker we can identify who has it, quarantine them, treat them, and move on, is the better," said David Verinder, Sarasota Memorial Hospital CEO.

Currently, Sarasota Memorial has no patients who have tested positive for the virus, but there are close to a dozen patients who are waiting for test results.

In the meantime, the hospital is isolating anyone who comes in with flu symptoms until they can be tested.

"While it is concerning because there is much unknown about this virus, it is important to keep in mind that many colds and other viruses circulate at this time of year," said James Fiorica, SMH Chief Medical Officer

Doctors say the coronavirus is similar to the flu. They recommend anyone with cold or flu symptoms to say home until they’ve been without fever for more than two days.

If their symptoms worsen, they say it's very important to call ahead before going to a clinic or hospital.