California health officials to perform coronavirus testing at Richmond lab

California health officials select Richmond lab for coronavirus testing
The California Department of Public Health is testing for the coronavirus at its Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory at 850 Marina Bay Parkway in Richmond. (Photo credit: California Department of Public Health)

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said it expects to begin testing patients for the novel coronavirus at its laboratory in Richmond starting Wednesday, Feb. 12.

The state’s Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory at 850 Marina Bay Parkway is one of 16 laboratories statewide selected to perform tests for coronavirus, a growing outbreak that as of Friday had grown to 31,000 confirmed cases worldwide and caused 636 deaths, the vast majority in China, where the outbreak began. Twelve confirmed cases have been reported in the U.S., including six in California. While public health officials say immediate health risk to the general public in the state is low, it is taking steps to remain vigilant.

The state’s Richmond laboratory will be able to provide results within two days of testing patients, which is more rapid than the current pace by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is between two and seven days, according to the CDPH.

“This will support state and local public health departments and health care providers that are working to protect the health of the people of California,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, CDPH director and state Health Officer. “Providing this test in California will deliver more rapid test results to improve care of persons who may be sick with this new virus.”

The virus, which causes an outbreak of pneumonia illnesses, began in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in early December. Of the 12 cases confirmed in California, two were in Santa Clara County, two in San Benito County, and one in both Los Angeles County and Orange County, health officials say. There have been no confirmed cases in Contra Costa County. This week, planes carrying hundreds of Americans who were evacuated from China landed at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield for quarantine.

Public health officials urge people who recently traveled and who become ill to notify their health care provider of their travel history. Those who have recently traveled to China or who have had contact with a person with possible novel coronavirus infection should contact their local health department or health care provider, according to CDPH.

For more information about novel coronavirus 2019, visit the CDPH website.