Michigan Coronavirus: MTU opens a testing lab for COVID-19

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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – Michigan Technological University (MTU) has begun testing patient samples for COVID-19.

Many people across the Upper Peninsula have expressed concern about a lack of testing for the novel coronavirus. MTU has decided to join forces with local hospitals by receiving and testing patient samples on campus.

MTU is now the second testing site in the U.P. and can run up to 40 samples per hour on two machines. This means they can produce results between 24 and 48 hours. Labs in the state are helping to verify accuracy and protocols in the MTU facility.

Sen. Ed McBroom and Rep. Greg Markkanen helped assist the university in becoming a testing lab for COVID-19. McBroom navigated any issues with the state, and MTU has been officially approved.

Prior to MTU and Duke Lifepoint, McBroom said all U.P. COVID-19 test samples had to be driven downstate, which slowed down results significantly.

“Michigan Tech, to their credit, has stepped up in the big league in this. They stepped and said they wanted to help and be a part of solving this crisis. They said ‘We have the expertise, we have the equipment, we have the personnel and they’ve really delivered in a big way, and making the U.P. proud and representing U.P. ingenuity,” said McBroom.

MTU stated that the validation tests meet state and federal guidelines to support an Emergency Use Authorization. The lab also ensures patient privacy and has strict protocols in place to keep the lab staff safe and produce accurate test results. 

As more labs open across the state, David Dixon, a biosafety officer, said there is still a possibility of running out of supplies. However, the lab team is remaining positive and hopes to bring some ease to the U.P. community.

“I think having a testing facility locally is going to provide a lot of comfort and support for local community members knowing that we can handle it up here,” said Dixon.

For more information on the facility, the lab team, and how they test for COVID-19, you can visit Michigan Tech’s COVID-19 Testing Lab web page or email covidtesting@mtu.edu

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