NYC Is Opening Its Own Coronavirus Testing Lab

NYC Is Opening Its Own Coronavirus Testing Lab

Public health officials are hopeful that testing will — for the first time since the coronavirus arrived in New York City — no longer be a scarce resource. The new laboratory is the latest chapter in the city’s long-running efforts to fix a series of problems plaguing testing efforts. The problems go back to February and March, when a series of missteps and disastrous decisions by the federal government meant that few people qualified for a test — even when they exhibited clear Covid-19 symptoms — as the virus began circulating across New York City and its suburbs. At first, the federal government had a monopoly over testing, and the city scrambled to develop the ability to test on its own. Early on, the effort was hamstrung by shortages of test kits, chemical reagents and even the swabs used to collect samples. In the months that followed, the largest national laboratories dramatically increased their testing capacity, and New York City began to rely on them to handle most local testing. But some of these laboratories, like Quest Diagnostics, grew overwhelmed this summer amid worsening outbreaks elsewhere in the country. That contributed to wait times as long as 2 to 3 weeks for test results in New York. To public health officials, it was clear New York City needed more testing infrastructure that it could control — or at least rely on. “We’ll be getting into the scale of testing capacity that we feel is critical,” Dr. Varma said. The additional capacity could come in handy amid the coming ...
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