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CLEVELAND (WJW)– Just a few months ago, hundreds of people were lined up in their cars at Cleveland Clinic‘s makeshift COVID-19 testing sites. Testing available has increased across the state of Ohio. But once the specimens are collected, where do they go?

“We do flu testing, we do respiratory viral panels, we do HPV,” said Sherilynn Vogel, Cleveland Clinic lead technologist. She is working in the heart of the coronavirus pandemic, specializing in molecular microbiology.

The 30-year veteran said once the FDA approved outside labs to conduct testing, her team sprang into action, working to get testing platforms up and running. Her world changing overnight.

“We were notified like on a Thursday that we had to get the test, get all the equipment, reagents, everything into our laboratory and start the validation process to make sure we would meet all the criteria needed before we started testing,” Vogel said.

Vogel was given a month to get the Clinic’s drive-through testing ramped up. But she did it in less than a week, working 16 hour days to create the first COVID-19 testing site in Northeast Ohio.

In addition to testing, she was also responsible for training additional lab technicians on analyzing a virus new to them, the country and the world.

“At that point, we were doing our routine testing, which was already at high volume. We had to borrow employees of the lab from different areas and train them. We went from a two-shift area to three shifts, 24/7, just getting all of that situated so that we could do the testing that was needed. And then when we started seeing the positives, it became really scary,” Vogel said.

Vogel said between 1,600 to 2,000 COVID-19 kits are still being analyzed daily.

“We’re here to help. And we’re here to provide all of the tests needed for our area and hopefully, everyone will keep doing what they need to do to keep the curve flattened.”

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