FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Statement from Scott Becker, CEO of Association of Public Health Laboratories
Silver Spring, MD, February 29, 2020 — “Today the Food and Drug Administration announced new guidelines to increase U.S. capacity for diagnostic testing for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“Previously, only public health laboratories that could verify test kits issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were permitted to test for the virus. This new guidance allows any CLIA-certified, high complexity laboratory to go through the process to become certified to test.
“This will allow the laboratory community to cast a wider net and enable testing in more communities across the country and bolster U.S public health response.
“We are greatly encouraged by expanding the testing capacity to the clinical laboratory community. We also recognize the importance that testing for COVID-19 must be done in close coordination with public health counterparts. This is necessary to ensure that tests are performed to quality standards; cases are not missed or misdiagnosed; hospitals doing testing are effectively isolating patients with positive results; and proper follow-up is conducted, including contact tracing.
“Today’s announcement comes in addition to guidance released earlier this week that permits public health labs to expand testing. As a result, we anticipate public health laboratories will have the capacity to conduct 10,000 tests a day by the end of next week. CDC is also manufacturing new test kits that are expected to be distributed to public health labs next week.
“Taken together, these steps will jump-start testing and surveillance capabilities and greatly enhance our efforts to protect the health of individuals and communities across the country.
“We look forward to continuing to work with our partners at CDC, FDA and in the public health and clinical laboratory community as we respond to this public health emergency.”
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The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) works to strengthen laboratory systems serving the public’s health in the U.S. and globally. APHL’s member laboratories protect the public’s health by monitoring and detecting infectious and foodborne diseases, environmental contaminants, terrorist agents, genetic disorders in newborns and other diverse health threats. Learn more at www.aphl.org.
Photo credit: California Department of Public Health