by Ana B. Ibarra, CALMATTERS
A nursing student does patient check-in and hands out requisition forms allowing patients to get their COVID-19 test results online at Cal Expo in Sacramento. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new deal today with a diagnostics company that he says will add 150,000 more tests a day, with results back in 24 to 48 hours.
Gov. Gavin Newsom today announced that the state will soon more than double its coronavirus testing capacity, a move that at least one legislator described as a “game changer” in the state’s pandemic response.
The state will partner with the Massachusetts-based diagnostics company PerkinElmer, which will allow the state to conduct and process an additional 150,000 tests a day with expedited test results in 24 to 48 hours.
“We have provisions in the contract to guarantee that turnaround time,” Newsom said.
At 150,000 tests a day, the new contract would cut down the per-test cost from the current $150-$200 to $30.
Currently, the state is processing just slightly over 100,000 tests per day with an average turnaround time of five to seven days. By some estimates, like those by scientists at the Harvard Global Health Institute, California should currently be doing upward of 220,000 tests a day to truly mitigate spread of the virus— and significantly more to suppress it.
“Each and every day is a precious day in terms of test results,” Newsom said. The longer people wait, those test results are almost useless in terms of helping stop the spread, he said. Newsom said the state will aim to get a new laboratory facility running by Nov. 1, just in time for the peak of flu season and a possible second wave of coronavirus, when more people are likely to seek out testing.