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This Private LA Lab Will Use Robots To Ramp Up COVID-19 Testing

Courtesy of the County of Los Angeles.
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L.A. County has turned to private partners — including a lab that uses robots — to dramatically scale up testing for COVID-19.

Earlier this week, the county announced a partnership with Curative Inc. of San Dimas. The company devised a test for the new coronavirus, and it’s working with a San Dimas lab called KorvaLabs to process the specimens.

KorvaLabs should be able to process 5,000 thousands tests a day by the end of this week, and it’s hoping to increase that to 10,000 per day by next week, said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a UCLA epidemiologist and unpaid Curative advisor. That’s in part because the lab will use robots, he said.

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But it takes humans to get everything set up, so right now it’s all hands on deck.

“I mean, they’re sleeping there in sleeping bags, taking shifts,” Klausner said, adding that, at 4,000 square feet, this will be one of the largest COVID-19 testing facilities in the state.

As of Wednesday, some 6,300 people had been tested in L.A. County, according to Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. She said:

“I want to remind all of us that … in these times that are less than ideal, we don’t have all the testing we wish we had."

Klausner believes public health departments just don’t have the staffing to pull off what private labs can do.

“You know, because of the disinvestment in public health, now we’re facing this crisis [and] we can’t respond,” Klausner said.

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He hopes the system coming online in San Dimas can be replicated throughout California.