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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

MSU Steps In To Help With COVID-19 Surveillance Testing

CDC’s laboratory test kit for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

As COVID-19 cases are surging across the county and monitoring for the virus hits a national backlog, Montana is turning to a local university to help with COVID-19 testing.

Montana State University will start processing COVID-19 tests for the state next week, according to the governor’s office, and will be able to test up to 500 asymptomatic individuals a day.

“As the state's land grant university, this kind of service and outreach to the people of Montana is exactly what we’re called to do,” MSU President Waded Cruzado said.

The state’s health department will pick which Montana populations will undergo this surveillance testing.

Previous surveillance and community testing events were put on pause last week after Quest Diagnostics, the company Montana contracted to analyze tests, announced it wouldn’t be able to process the state’s tests for several weeks.

Gov. Steve Bullock said the state has finalized a contract with another lab, MAKO Medical in North Carolina, to run an additional 1,000 tests a day. He also said the state will pay both MAKO and MSU $100 dollars per test run.

Montana reported 104 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. Although the state has far fewer cases than many other states, the rate of the virus’s recent spread in Montana is one of the highest in the country.

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