Lab Manager Jeremy Corrigan Talks Testing Increase With The New Kingfisher Machine
Humboldt County’s lab manager Jeremy Corrigan took two questions per media outlet today. An assistant read them on camera for his response. The resulting video, called a Media Availability, was then provided to news outlets at the end of the day.
In this video press release, Humboldt County Public Health Lab Manager Jeremy Corrigan explains the COVID-19 testing currently underway at the county’s Public Health lab, and shows us the new Kingfisher Flex testing equipment the lab has received.
Here are some of the main points covered in the July 30th Media Availability session with a summary of answers from Corrigan, followed by questions we would have liked to ask in response if appropriate.
EOC: Today, we have just a couple of questions, so before we get started, can you start off by speaking to testing in the county?
Sure. Our laboratory began testing for COVID around February of earlier this year. We started off with the CDC assay, and we started off with about 20 to 30 samples a day. And over the last couple months have ramped up to about 85 samples a day. To put it in perspective, last year and every year prior to that, we did about 150 to 200 PCR tests for the whole year and over the last four months we’ve done seven or six thousand COVID PCR tests, which is a huge dramatic increase.
And so we continue to ramp up our testing capacity due to the demand here locally, and with that, is adding additional equipment and new testing options for us. So, recently we were able to get a new testing option for COVID which is the Tacpath Kingfisher option.
We obtained a Kingfisher extraction equipment, which will dramatically increase our capacity for testing, about three-fold, in fact!
So, what that does currently, we have other extractors, but they’re pretty small and they do about eight samples per hour, and another one does about 14 samples per hour. So, over an hour period we can only extract 22 samples that are prepped up for our PCR step. With this new piece of equipment, we’re able to do 96 samples in about 23 minutes, and so it should triple our capacity in about two weeks. So we’re really excited about this opportunity.
In addition, we were able to procure about a $200,000 worth of equipment and supplies from the state of California to do about 10,000 tests. So we’re supplied and ready to go for the next phase of this response.
2 mins 20 secs in:
Are lab tests to detect the coronavirus restricted to people who have COVID-19 symptoms?
No, they’re not currently restricted to symptomatic individuals, although we must prioritize our testing here at our laboratory. So we’re one of the only laboratories that are here testing COVID locally, and we need to ensure fast turnaround times. So, we have a testing prioritization chart that prioritizes different populations, so we want to focus on the symptomatic individuals, as well as protecting our health care workforce. And so we also focus on congregate living facilities, and so we do some asymptomatic screening in those populations because they’re really important to protect them.
3 mins, 5 secs in:
Media Question: With regular tests, it often takes days to get results, by which point the person may have already infected others. Couldn’t that type of testing put the Humboldt community at greater risk?
Absolutely, turnaround time for testing is vital for us to conduct a adequate communicable disease investigation so that we can prevent and control outbreaks and further spread of COVID-19. That’s why our laboratory has been investing in equipment and supplies for us to increase our capacity to respond to those specific instances and cut down on turnaround time.Currently our laboratory focuses on symptomatic individuals and the healthcare workforce, but with tripling capacity here, we should be able to help support some of that asymptomatic screening that…many of those tests are being sent out and the turnaround time is reaching up to seven to ten days.
For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or during business hours by contacting [email protected] or calling 707-441-5000.
Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard: humboldtgov.org/dashboard,
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Twitter: @HumCoCOVID19, and
Humboldt Health Alert: humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert