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Coronavirus 'rapid tests' arrive at Southeast Texas hospitals Thursday

The test cartridges are used in an existing machine also test for influenza, strep and "RSV."

BEAUMONT, Texas — Rapid coronavirus tests are now arriving at some Southeast Texas hospitals as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise in the area.

As of Wednesday evening there were 210 confirmed cases of the virus and eight deaths related to it in the eight-county Southeast Texas area. Thursday afternoon more than 10,000 cases had been confirmed across Texas according to the state.

The rapid test cartridges were initially delivered to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital according to Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick.

The test cartridges are used in an existing machine, the ID NOW, that has been sold by Abbott Laboratories since 2014. Previously the machine was only used to test patients for influenza, strep and respiratory syncytial virus, or “RSV," according to a company representative.

Baptist Hospital and the Medical Center of Southeast Texas both have the machine but did not initially receive cartridges although Christus sent a dozen cartridges to Baptist Hospital Branick told 12News Thursday afternoon.

There are not a lot of the rapid tests available currently and more are being requested from the state operations center Branick said.

The rapid tests will be provided to more hospitals once they arrive he said.

The rapid tests at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital are only being used for in-patient cases at this time the hospital said in a statement to 12News.

Tests are not available on a walk-in basis as the hospital is not a community testing site according to the statement.

The South East Texas Regional Emergency Operations Center, operated by six counties is continuing to operate drive-thru testing sites in Jefferson and Hardin Counties.

Results from those test are now coming back in about 48 hours according to Branick.

Residents who feel they need a test should call (409) 550-2536 to be screened and given an appointment at one of the two sites. Those who arrive at the sites without being pre-screened will not be tested.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that Abbott Laboratories would be sending 10,000 of the test cartridges to Texas last Friday in an email and again Monday during a news conference. He said that they would be sent to hospitals.

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The company reported recently that 190,000 of the test cartridges had been sent to 21 states and that they can produce results in as little as five minutes.

Abbott Laboratories is currently producing 50,000 tests daily and plans to produce 2,000,000 per month by June.

Walgreen's announced on Tuesday 15 new testing sites, using the rapid tests, will open in seven states including Texas.

A news release from the company said they would be sent to “hot-spots.”

A company representative says the locations are being finalized, and couldn't say if any Southeast Texas Walgreen's will be included.