California recently partnered with its first commercial COVID-19 testing lab and is expecting two more to come online this month, including one in Sacramento, significantly increasing the number of tests the state can process.
"When those two labs come online, we will have the capacity on a daily basis just in Quest commercial support in California to process in excess of 5,000 tests," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday. The labs are run by Quest Diagnostics.
Newsom said the first site, in San Juan Capistrano, processed 100 tests Monday alone, and soon will be able to test 1,200 people a day. The new labs, in West Hills and Sacramento, are expected to start testing by March 24.
"That will allow us … to do more complicated tests and more community surveillance," Newsom said. "We'll begin to shift that burden from our own labs to our commercial partners as well to our hospitals."
Dr. Peter Beilenson, director of health services for Sacramento County, said before Newsom's remarks that additional testing capacity would be a huge lift to counties. He said the county lab can process around 20 tests a day, and won't be able to expand that until there are more commercial labs online.
"It takes a long time because we didn’t get the tests from the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention] until a couple weeks ago," he said. "So we’re prioritizing people based on whether they are health care worker who’s been exposed to a patient … or seniors who have serious conditions. That’s all we’re able to test right now, so we triage everybody else."
There are now 157 confirmed COVID-19 cases in California including two deaths, one in Placer County and another in Santa Clara County. The state is also monitoring 10,300 who came in on commercial flights.
Newsom also said that 676 passengers have left the Grand Princess cruise ship that docked in Oakland Monday. Of those, 320 were taken to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. The governor said Californian residents and those with medical needs had priority.
The governor took a swipe at major sports leagues, saying he found it curious the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer have put out coronavirus guidelines for players but not for fans.
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