ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp announced a "laboratory surge capacity plan" on Tuesday to increase coronavirus testing in Georgia.
A release said the effort would draw on the collective lab resources of the University System of Georgia, Georgia Public Health Laboratory and Emory University to increase test processing to over 3,000 samples a day.
The effort will look to increase the availability of polymerase chain reaction testing for COVID-19.
According to the release, a Laboratory Surge Capacity Task Force will work with the Georgia Department of Public Health to implement the effort. It describes two efforts already underway to see that testing begins ramping up in the next five to seven days.
The first involves public universities transferring their equipment to accredited clinical labs to perform the tests. The second involves validating new laboratory methods and implementing "new solutions and technologies" to maintain the supply chain that enables test processing.
"A major hurdle in this process has been securing critical reagents, instrumentation and supplies needed in the PCR process from commercial vendors to ramp up and begin testing," the release says. "Supply chain volatility has been a barrier to implementation and could continue to put the testing process at risk across the state."
It's not clear if the task force would have any authority to compel supply chain actors to cooperate in any way, or if it is meant solely to find workarounds to supply chain failures.
Gov. Kemp's office has "expedited the purchase of necessary equipment and reagents" to begin the ramp-up, the release said.
"Adequate testing for COVID-19 has continued to be a top priority for the Coronavirus Task Force as we fight this pandemic," the governor said in the release. "With this innovative partnership between state government agencies, our world-class research institutions, and private-sector partners, we will be able to dramatically increase testing capacity. We hope this surge capacity plan will allow federal and state public health officials to gain a more complete picture of COVID-19's impact on Georgia and better inform our collective decisions going forward."
The state Department of Public Health commissioner, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, said working with the University of Georgia system would "greatly expand our testing capacity" and achieve "identifying more cases, getting more people into care and protecting our communities from the spread of COVID-19."
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