Covington lab processing COVID-19 tests feels pressure with limited supplies, rising demand

Posted at 2:11 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 16:32:15-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — Scientists processing COVID-19 tests at Gravity Diagnostics are feeling the pressure, CEO Tony Remington said.

Limited supplies coupled with a rise in demand for tests has made for a stressful time at the lab.

“Next Monday, if I don't get my shipment, I can't get the 30,000 samples I need to do next week,” Remington said.

The four-year-old lab handles COVID-19 samples for Kentucky hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and all of Kroger’s drive-thru test sites nationwide.

Gravity Diagnostics hired 45 new employees and 18 summer interns to keep up with the demand.

The company also bought a dozen biohazard hoods, and still, getting results back within 48 hours is a week-to-week proposition.

"We've had moments where if a shipment didn't arrive today we wouldn't be able to test tomorrow. So far we haven't had a problem,” Remington said.

Remington said getting the essential swabs and testing solution can be difficult. When the pandemic started, only two manufacturers made test kits: One in China and one in Italy.

Now, companies like Meridian are involved in making swabs, but there are rules with purchasing.

Most vendors won’t allow anyone to buy more than a week’s supply at a time, Remington said, and demand is rising as more businesses reopen each day.

"We expect testing to be a really key component to getting everyone back to work,” Remington said. “So we're preparing for that."