Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Voter Guide

San Diego County Lab Now Testing For Coronavirus

A lab worker prepares samples to be tested for COVID-19 in San Diego, Feb. 28...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: A lab worker prepares samples to be tested for COVID-19 in San Diego, Feb. 28, 2020.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Testing for the coronavirus is now happening at a San Diego County Health and Human Services lab, saving health officials from having to send samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Friday morning, a technician was testing samples at the lab in the Midway District. This time it was just four samples. But with the coronavirus expected to spread in the United States, the county is ready to scale up.

"We have the capability, we have the capacity and whatever is needed to be done I think we’ll be able to do," said Annaliza Manlutac who is a microbiologist for the county.

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Mike Damron

Manlutac said test results can now come back within 24 hours. Before county officials waited up to five days to get test results from the CDC. Faster testing means people might spend less time in the hospital and if a case appears officials can quickly begin to see who else might be infected.

"I would think this is really very significant," Manlutac said.

Health officials are monitoring hundreds of people in the county considered to be at moderate risk for the virus. A decision whether to test comes after someone is taken to a local hospital.

"Then that provider calls our health department and then have the consultation with our staff here and we also involve the CDC and that decision is made collectively whether to test or not to," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.

Out of the dozen or so tests examined by the county lab none so far have come back positive — but to double-check samples are also being sent to the CDC.

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

Youtube and Fox Sports reach a deal over the weekend in regards to Fox Sports Regional Networks and broadcasts of the Padres. Plus, research shows Australian platypus populations are in danger. And drones may soon be delivering vital medical test samples in San Diego.

Aired: March 2, 2020 | Transcript

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.