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Colleges, state ramp up COVID-19 testing
Gov. Brian Kemp announced a large surge in the ability to test for COVID-19 in Georgia.
Kathleen Toomey
Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, participates in a meeting of the Coronavirus Task Force on March 12, 2020, in Atlanta. - photo by Special to The Covington News

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp announced a large surge in the ability to test for COVID-19 in Georgia.

Kemp said there will be an increase in the availability of polymerase chain reaction testing, featuring pooled resources of the University System of Georgia, Georgia Public Health Laboratory and Emory University.

“Adequate testing for COVID-19 has continued to be a top priority for the Coronavirus Task Force as we fight this pandemic,” Kemp said.

“With this innovative partnership between state government agencies, our world-class research institutions and private-sector partners, we will be able to dramatically increase testing capacity.”

Upon implementation, labs will be able to process more than 3,000 samples per day.

“We hope this surge capacity plan will allow federal and state public health officials to gain a more complete picture of COVID-19’s impact on Georgia and better inform our collective decisions going forward,” Kemp said.

“We expect this plan will lead to greater testing capacity and more insight into the number of positive cases in our state.”

Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey, the state’s commissioner of public health, said the expansion of testing means identifying more cases, getting more people into care and protecting communities from the spread of the coronavirus.

“This collaboration will not only provide much needed capacity now, but it will ensure a robust state infrastructure for the future,” she said.

The partnership allows Georgia’s universities to transfer equipment needed for COVID-19 testing from their research labs to accredited clinical labs at Georgia State University, Augusta University, Emory University and the Georgia Public Health Laboratory.

Kemp’s office has expedited the purchase of necessary equipment and reagents to begin ramping up testing over the next five to seven days.

Kemp authorized a Laboratory Surge Capacity Task Force to validate new lab methods and implement new solutions and technologies to safeguard the state’s testing infrastructure. These efforts are designed to enable the four accredited labs to operate despite potential disruptions to the supply chain.