MILWAUKEE -- A crucial step in returning to life as normal after COVID-19 is having a test available for anyone who wants one. Officials at a Milwaukee lab are ready to work with local and state leaders to do just that.
As of Tuesday, May 19, nearly 13,000 people in Milwaukee had pulled into two mobile sites to be tested for COVID-19. Swabs taken by the Wisconsin National Guard go to a state lab, Exact Sciences in Madison, for analysis, but some could end up at Accelerated Analytical in Milwaukee.
"Our laboratory is CLIA certified, which is a federal certification which allows us to do high complexity testing such as COVID," said David Metzger with Accelerated Analytical.
Metzger said his lab agreed to set aside 600 tests per day for the Milwaukee Health Department. As of Tuesday, the city had not sent any samples.
"We're here for you if you need us," said Metzger.
So far, all of the lab's tests have been sent in by businesses screening employees in hopes of mitigating the spread.
"Meat companies, we're working with food companies," said Metzger.
Inside the lab, 12 people work exclusively on COVID testing -- and they're hiring.
As you might imagine, technologists go through a lot of personal protective equipment.
"We treat every sample as if it is positive," said Metzger.
It's a huge undertaking. The lab has a supply chain for scarce materials like the nasal swabs.
Now that it's up and running, Metzger said he expects to be busy as businesses try to get asymptomatic carriers out of the workplace.
"Getting those people who really want to show up to work but probably shouldn't show up for work, out of the population and into quarantine," said Metzger.
Metzger said Accelerated Analytical has done thousands of COVID-19 tests for businesses -- and they're in discussions with state about taking on some of their testing load.
Meanwhile, officials with the Milwaukee Health Department said there's currently no backlog of tests, and results usually come back in a few days. The MHD may turn to Accelerated Analytical if local and state labs exceed their capacities.