KDHE says only have enough test kits for roughly 300 patients, could rely on private labs

Kansas’ health department could all but run out of coronavirus testing kits over the weekend, forcing it to rely on private labs and potentially delaying results, the agency’s top administrator said Friday.

Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Department of Health and Environment, said that testing wouldn’t stop altogether because the agency would hold back a few of its tests for infected people who have been hospitalized. Also, four private lab companies already are doing some testing, though Norman said they typically take longer to report their results than the state’s one-day turnaround.

The state has enough testing kits for about 300 patients, and it’s doing testing for between 150 and 300 a day, Norman said.  He said his agency has been providing free testing for local agencies and hospitals, and private lab tests will come with a cost of roughly $200.

“Everybody’s struggling with this,“ Norman said during a briefing for reporters.

Norman said his department is working with hospitals so that they can start their own testing. Kansas has had more than 40 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, including one death, with 10 new confirmed cases reported Friday alone.

The vast majority of infected people recover and most people have mild or moderate symptoms, but the virus can lead to serious illnesses in some people, particularly older adults and people with underlying health conditions.