UMC will significantly increase the number of coronavirus tests it can process during the coming weeks, helping fill a critical need that is considered key to reopening our community and containing future outbreaks of the virus.
"Increased testing will show us what is really going on in our community," Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said. "Testing will eventually allow us to reopen local businesses carefully and show us when we need to adjust what we are doing."
"UMC continues to lead the way in increasing testing capabilities in Southern Nevada," Commission Vice Chairman and UMC Board of Trustees Chairman Lawrence Weekly said. "We have no way of seeing the true extent of the problem in our community until we have a robust testing program in place."
Today, UMC's lab can process 500 tests per day. That number is expected to increase to 1,500 tests per day on Saturday, April 25, and then reach 4,000 tests per day on May 1. By June 1, the UMC lab is expected to be able to process 10,000 tests per day. These tests are polymerase chain reaction tests, better known as PCR tests, and they show whether someone currently has the coronavirus. The tests usually take about 24 hours to complete.
In addition, UMC's lab will launch coronavirus anti-body testing on May 30. The anti-body tests can show whether someone is currently infected, and whether they have been infected in the past. Officials are still determining how many anti-body tests the hospital will be able to process.
An internal working group including UMC CEO Mason VanHouweling, County Fire Chief John Steinbeck, Southern Nevada Health District Acting Chief Health Officer Dr. Fermin Leguen is working on recommendations to guide who will be tested, and when and where the expanded testing will occur.
Currently, tests are only provided to individuals who have symptoms of the coronavirus and a doctor's order to get tested. UMC is able to boost testing capabilities thanks to an expansion of the hospital's lab, and the purchase of new testing equipment and the materials needed to process the tests. More details about the expanded testing capabilities will be released with the next week.