© 2021 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
KSOR Header background image 1
a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Health and Medicine

Newsom Pledges More COVID-19 Testing Capacity With New Lab

Andrew Nixon/CapRadio

The governor announces the opening of a PerkinElmer lab in Santa Clarita that will help double statewide COVID-19 testing capacity by March.

Gov. Gavin Newsom met a self-imposed Nov. 1 deadline to expand California’s daily COVID-19 testing by opening a new laboratory in Santa Clarita on Friday. The governor said he expects the lab will soon begin to process 40,000 tests a day and eventually ramp up to 150,000 — doubling the state’s capacity.

California’s decision to build its own $25 million state-of-the-art lab was in response to the lack of federal action around testing.

“Instead of pointing fingers and reflecting on the fact that we could have, would have, should have had a national testing strategy in this country, we decided to take a little bit of responsibility,” the governor said after receiving a nose-swab test during a site visit. “We tried to take a little bit of the California ingenuity.”

Newsom first announced a $1.4 billion deal with Massachusetts-based diagnostics company PerkinElmer two months ago. The relationship isn’t new. The state has worked with the company for many years to conduct newborn screenings.

The new lab is expected to increase California’s capacity by 150,000 tests a day by March. That would more than double the 120,000-plus tests currently conducted daily. To date, the state has administered more than 18 million tests. Results are expected within 24 to 48 hours.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary, said this effort will bring much needed testing to harder hit areas, including communities of color and rural areas.

“This represents an opportunity to get one of the key tools to reducing transmission in those areas where we know transmission goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in the blink of an eye,” Ghaly said.

The PerkinElmer deal is also supposed to help reduce costs, cutting what the state pays per test from about $150 to $30.78, once operating at full capacity.

CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.