New York City to Open a Coronavirus Test Lab to Address Testing Lag

Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference in July. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

In response to delays in coronavirus testing and test results, New York City will be opening a testing lab in Manhattan, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a Thursday press conference.

The city has been struggling to process thousands of tests. Labs have been overwhelmed and New Yorkers have sometimes waited weeks to find out their results.

The Pandemic Response Lab (PRL) will process COVID-19 tests so results can be returned between 24 and 48 hours later for New York City health services and hospitals. The lab is set up in the Alexandria Center for Life Science in Manhattan, a commercial laboratory building that houses medical research and pharmaceutical companies. The lab is expected to be process 20,000 tests a day by November.

The lab will be run by Opentrons, a robotics company based in Brooklyn that works in the intersection of medicine and technology.

“Testing is key to controlling the spread of COVID-19 and to guiding the revitalization of our city,” said W. Ian Lipkin, the Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity in Columbia University. “If we all do our part, schools, businesses, restaurants, sports and entertainment can and will come back to NYC.”

The system will begin with samples from hospital testing centers, but as schools begin to open, officials hope the lab will quickly diagnose teachers and students.

“With New York City’s infection rate and hospitalizations at their lowest point since the beginning of the pandemic, we know that our strategy of widespread testing and tracing is working,” de Blasio told reporters. “The PRL will build on our city’s reputation as a world leader in making testing available to everyone.”