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New York City Opening Dedicated COVID-19 Testing Laboratory

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday the opening of the Pandemic Response Lab, a laboratory dedicated to processing SARS-CoV-2 tests in 24 to 48 hours for NYC Health + Hospitals, the network of public healthcare facilities, including hospitals and nursing homes, in New York City.

The lab is based in the Alexandria Center for Life Science in Manhattan and will expand capacity to 20,000 tests per day by November, the mayor said in a statement. The effort was led by New York City Economic Development Corporation using technology licensed from New York University's Langone Health, robotics company Opentrons, and experts from P4 Clinical, Health + Hospitals, and the NYC Test + Trace team. 

Earlier this year, a Testing Innovation Council was convened with experts from Columbia University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and other institutions to evaluate diagnostic technologies and laboratory capacity, which led to the creation of the PRL. The lab currently employs almost 100 people and will add 50 more by November. 

During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of cases in New York City overwhelmed the ability of labs to perform COVID-19 testing. With a second wave of cases expected in New York, and elsewhere, and the reopening of schools, there are concerns that the city's testing capacity will again be strained.

"As New York City continues to reopen and the economic recovery begins, large-scale testing that provides results fast is key to keeping New Yorkers safe and the city moving forward," James Patchett, president and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, said in a statement.   

"The Pandemic Response Lab allows us to increase the number of tests we can process daily, to decrease citywide turnaround times, and to immediately ensure expanded access to testing," NYC Health + Hospitals Vice President of Clinical Operations Kenra Ford added.