State signs contract allowing it to significantly increase COVID-19 testing capacity, reduce turnaround time

Coronavirus

SACRAMENTO (KGET) — Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today that California has signed a contract with diagnostics company PerkinElmer that will allow the state to process up to an additional 150,000 COVID-19 diagnostic tests a day, with a contractual turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours.

The state said the goal is to stand up a laboratory facility to begin processing tens of thousands of additional tests by November 1 and run at full capacity by ­no later than March 1, 2021.

The state said this is a first-of-its-kind agreement that aims to disrupt the testing marketplace, break supply chain logjams and drive down the costs for tests for every Californian.

With the contract, Newsom said the state will be able to greatly expand its ability to track and prevent COVID-19 infections and create additional testing capacity that will allow it to increase testing in communities at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

“California is using its market power to combat global supply chain challenges and protect Californians in the fight against COVID-19,” Newsom said. “Supply chains across the country have slowed as demand for COVID-19 tests has increased, and flu season will only exacerbate the problem. So we are building our own laboratory capabilities right here on California soil with a stable supply chain to fight the disease, lower the prices of testing for everyone and protect Californians most at risk from COVID-19.”

Under the contract with PerkinElmer, the state said it will use polymerase chain reaction diagnostic testing, which is considered to be the gold standard in testing.

The per-test cost would be $30.78 at 150,000 tests per day, according to the state. To support this contract at the lowest cost to taxpayers, the state said it will enter into a contract for third-party billing services to recoup costs from health insurance companies or other payers.

“Physicians have been on the front lines of this pandemic from Day One. To provide the best care possible to our patients we need fast, reliable diagnostic testing,” said Dr. Peter N. Bretan Jr., president of the California Medical Association. “We applaud Governor Newsom for helping us address that need. Rapid testing also increases our ability to do effective contact tracing to help stem the spread of COVID-19.” 

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