Lab Leaders Say COVID-19 Tests Needed in 2021

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How long into the future will clinical laboratories need to offer COVID-19 tests on a large scale? That is the number one question confronting labs in every region of the United States.

Last week, three nationally-known lab CEOs answered that question during the general session of the Virtual Executive War College. It was a panel discussion moderated by Robert L. Michel, Publisher of The Dark Report.

The three panelists were:

• Rick L. Panning, MBA, MLS (ASCP) CM, retired as of Oct. 2 from the position of Senior Administrative Director of Laboratory Services for HealthPartners and Park Nicollet in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

• David Dexter, President and CEO of Sonora Quest Laboratories, LLC, a joint venture between Quest Diagnostics and Banner Health in Tempe, Arizona and President and CEO for Laboratory Sciences of Arizona, LLC.

• Stan Schofield, President of NorDx, a regional laboratory corporation that supports an integrated delivery system at MaineHealth in Portland, Maine.

Panning’s Comments: “…our planning points to an ongoing demand for COVID-19 testing. Influenza season is arriving and the pandemic is accelerating. Given that evidence and the guidance from state and federal officials, we expect our clinical laboratory will be providing significant numbers of COVID-19 tests for the balance of this year and probably far into 2021.”

Dexter’s comments: “We are budgeting to support an increase in COVID-19 PCR testing in both November and December. Arizona state officials believe that COVID-19 cases will peak at the end of January and we’ll start seeing the downside in February of 2021. … if a vaccine becomes available, we think there will be a significant increase in antibody testing, probably starting in second quarter and continuing for the balance of 2021.”

Schofield’s comments: “Administration of the health system and our clinical laboratory think that the COVID-19 test volume and demand for these tests will be tough on our lab for another 12 months. This will be particularly true for COVID-19 molecular tests.”

These three predictions will be invaluable as your lab or pathology group does its budget planning and projections for the balance of 2020 and into 2021.

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