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?

Corrigan: 

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?

Corrigan: 

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? 

Corrigan: 

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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12 comments

  • wonderful ! glad they have it.

  • “We’ll be able to…”

    WHEN will they be able to and how will that shorten the time between testing and results? What will the turn around be?

    More: HOW LONG IS THE LINE FOR TESTING at the moment?

    IF I’d made that appointment in early July when I first thought I might have symptoms (I did have symptoms, but medics will ALWAYS tell me I’m imagining things unless I’m bleeding on them) I’d only just now be waiting in line in my car, an hour from home, waiting for the swabs up my nose.

    These might be obnoxious questions, but they are valid and necessary and I lose my trust in the reliability of the the folks who LOVE their new toys but neglect to take that affection and apply it to the daily lives of the people who don’t actually USE them.

    WHEN will be be getting antibody tests? If we have them, who is offering them and HOW MUCH DO THEY COST??
    No one seems to be sharing those details and it seems to me that this is necessary information.
    For many of us health care is a matter of how much we’ll go into debit for it. In my case my co-pay for Medi-Cal is half my monthly income which means I don’t bother with going into argue with another know-it-all Medic who will try to poison me with pharmaceuticals or tell me I’m imagining what is a very real experience.

  • Unflappable Jack

    Welcome readers to another episode of the Barking of Small Dogs.

  • This claim by the cdc means the mortality rate of covid is close to nothing in statistical terms

  • People who witness mass death in a pandemic do not take time to make tik tok dance videos

  • I’ve had two tests at Redwood Acres. In both cases, I easily registered online.
    For the first test, I was able to get an appointment the NEXT day (early June), but I opted for the Monday after(four days later). I got the results in less than three days.

    I had the second test last week on Thursday around noon, and the results came back just after the weekend.

    Each time I waited about five minutes to get tested. The first time, it tickled, the second was unpleasant.

    Help all of us, including yourself. Get tested. Wear a mask when you go out.

    I hope you are well and stay that way.

    • Daryl, spot on

    • Glad to hear your input. I’m surprised some enterprising journalists haven’t went to the optum site and done a survey on people’s experience. How long to wait for a test and how long for results.

    • Well since the mask makes absolutely NO GUARANTEES,…

      There is no guarantees for anything in this world, except for the ones who feel the need control, manipulate, and take advantage of others.

      let’s hope that a new president makes everything all better….

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