Emilea Haddox, Jessica Lasiter, Michele Werner, Karen Williams, Debbie Wisenor are all certified by the American Society for Clinical Pathology and licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners as Medical Laboratory Scientists in Louisiana.

(Press Release) – A Medical Laboratory Scientist who earned a bachelor’s degree and passed a national certification exam performs complex laboratory testing. A Medical Laboratory Scientist is certified and competent to perform analyses on samples in the hematology, serology, clinical chemistry, urinalysis, blood bank, microbiology and molecular departments of a medical laboratory. All patient specimens are delivered to a medical laboratory. A Medical Laboratory Scientist will analyze the patient’s specimen manually or on complex instrumentation with multiple testing platforms. It is estimated that over 75% of medical decisions are based on the results from these analyses; all laboratory testing must be performed with accuracy and precision.

1. When a symptomatic individual visits a mobile, drive thru collection facility for COVID 19, how soon will this individual get a result of positive or negative? The mobile, drive-thru collection sites are collecting your nasal or nasopharyngeal specimen. These specimens are preserved in a transport medium and sent to the nearest medical laboratory that performs COVID 19 analysis. These sites should be called Drive-Thru Collection sites. COVID-19 testing is NOT performed at these collection facilities. The majority of samples are sent as far away as North Carolina, Arizona and Texas for testing. Many collection sites employ criteria that limit those who are eligible for testing.

2. Why do not all medical laboratories perform COVID-19 testing? Tests are either developed by the laboratory or given an abbreviated approval process from the FDA. This abbreviated process is called Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Normally, the timeframe to develop a new accurate and reliable test, such as COVID-19, takes months to years. During this pandemic, test development is taking weeks with the abbreviated approval.

3. How complex is the testing for COVID-19? Can I perform the testing at home? Testing analysis for COVID-19 is highly complex. A Medical Laboratory Scientist is certified and licensed with specialized training in laboratory methodology and quality assurance to perform high complexity testing.

4. How long does it take the manufacturer to distribute the EUA approved testing method? Manufacturers will not begin full scale production of these testing methods until EUA approval is granted. Remember, COVID-19 is a novel virus. Once EUA approval is granted, production of this testing method is started. FEMA is directing the allocation of these EUA approved testing methods.

5. Once a medical laboratory has purchased the EUA instrument and FEMA has allocated testing in our region, how long will it take for the medical laboratory to start performing COVID-19 testing in their facility? Once a lab receives the test, they must validate the test to ensure the test is precise and accurate before reporting patient results. All Medical Laboratory Scientists performing the testing must be trained on the new testing method. This process could take several days to weeks to finalize.

6. Which laboratory test will indicate a person has been exposed and recovered from a COVID-19 infection? Laboratory tests for COVID-19 IgM antibody production will prove you have been exposed to this novel virus. Yesterday, one antibody production testing platform has received EUA approval.

If you think you are infected with COVID-19, would a positive or negative result truly change your treatment? The best thing you can do during this pandemic is stay at home (unless you are healthy and able to give blood and then practice social distancing). If you are sick, self-quarantine. If your symptoms progress, call your health care provider. We are all in this pandemic together. Be sure to thank all the healthcare and essential workers and STAY AT HOME!

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