DETROIT - Detroit is getting some new toys this April - badly needed ones, too.
The city will receive the country's first batch of instant COVID-19 test kits on Sunday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration signed off on a new medical device that can detect if someone had coronavirus in as little as five minutes.
Calling it "a game-changer," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the new technology will speed up the time it takes first responders to learn of their results, going from a several day wait to less than 15 minutes.
Even though Detroit was approved to receive the first five testing machines and 5,000 testing kits Sunday, we're getting a peek at what they look like today.
"Someone who shows up sick - I can get them tested, I can find out if it's COVID or something else," said Dr. Robert Dunne, VP Chief Emergency Medicine at St. John Hospital. "In addition, for someone who needs to get back to work, maybe they had symptoms, they tested positive, they are doing well - I can retest them to make sure they are negative and get them back to work safely. There was a significant delay in our test results."
Manufactured by Abbott Laboratories and costing the city $377,000, the tests are a breakthrough because they're sensitive enough to detect the virus before someone experiences symptoms.
Part of the reason the coronavirus has been such a tricky disease to detect is due to the virus's incubation period. It can take up to 14 days for someone to show symptoms similar to the coronavirus (cough, fever, trouble breathing). By the time someone does show symptoms, if they even do, they could have already spread the virus to others.
Fast and accurate testing is especially needed for the health care workers operating on the front lines and most in danger of contracting the disease. First responders like EMS, police officers and firemen and women could also benefit.
“They will get results within 15 minutes. If these five lab machines work as promised, and we're going to be the first ones to find out, we could potentially return a large number of employees who are quarantined back to work cause they're healthy and those who have tested positive-- we will make sure they get the right care," said Duggan.
As of Thursday, 106 Detroit Police Department employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Another 524 officers and 123 civilian workers are in self-quarantine.
So far, 141 officers have returned to work and 98 are in the process of returning to work.
A lack of testing has been one of the city's - and country's - biggest obstacles in combatting the coronavirus spread. While Michigan's official coronavirus count is 10,800 as of Thursday, March 2, it's likely that number is much higher. Many states are struggling to come up with an accurate number of positive cases of COVID-19 because they can't keep up with the amount of testing that is needed.
A week ago, Detroit set up the state's first drive-thru testing facility off of State Fair Avenue and Eight Mile. It will allow the city to speed up testing by screening up to 400 people a day.
Detroit's new drive-thru testing facility (City of Detroit)
Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath.
To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.
Are you showing symptoms? Try Beaumont's virtual screening tool
And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.
FOX 2 is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. Every weekday we're live at 1 p.m. with a special show reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.
You can also get the latest coronavirus news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.