Coronavirus News: Saliva testing begins in New Jersey

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020
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Anthony Johnson explores how a new test could provide fast results on a mass scale

EDISON, New Jersey (WABC) -- The Middlesex County Department of Emergency Management is rolling out the first saliva-based coronavirus test that can be produced on a mass scale Wednesday at a site located in Edison, New Jersey.

This type of testing is being done for the first time in the nation since the FDA approved it, and they're promising COVID-19 results within 24 to 48 hours.

The test, developed at Rutgers, should dramatically increase the number of people who can get tested.

Governor Phil Murphy is among those emphasizing a need for expanded testing before we can reopen the economy.

The saliva test is supposed to also keep the health professionals safe -- no more leaning into cars to get a swab up someone's nose or back into their throat.

The testing site is located outside the DMA at 33 Kilmer Road in Edison. You must make an appointment online before you go, and you must be a resident of Middlesex County.

Right now, the tests are sent to two local labs, the Rutgers University Clinical Genomics Lab and Accurate Diagnostic's Lab in South Plainfield, which can handles tens of thousand of samples a day, Accurate Diagnostic Lab general manager Nicholas Melchiaorre said.

As for the procedure, after spitting into the tube, the saliva mixes with a proprietary solution. They shake it for five seconds and seal it, and the patient's name and date of birth goes on the sample. It's wiped down with an alcohol swab and goes to the lab.

"How do we come up with ways to mitigate exposure?" Melchiaorre said. "And we think this is, so far, the best way."

There is no timeline as to when production will be ramped up, but Melchiaorre said instructions from the White House have been broad.

"We've been given clear direction to produce as many as possible," he said.

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