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California to double daily number of COVID-19 tests

Coronavirus

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – California is preparing to more than double the daily number of people getting tested for COVID-19.

State leaders are promising test turn around times will get faster, too.

California leaders announced Wednesday they inked a new deal with a major diagnostics company to start processing an extra 150,000 tests a day.

“In an effort to disrupt the testing market and improve reliability and access for everybody in terms of getting tests and more importantly getting tests back in a timely manner,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. 

The $1.4-billion contract with PerkinElmer would more than double the state’s current daily testing capacity to about a quarter of a million tests a day with a turn around time of 24-48 hours.

The state is currently processing more than 100,000 tests a day with results averaging results within 5-7 days but it will be months before the new program is up and running.

State leaders say the ramped up testing would begin November 1st and run until March of 2021.

Health officials say this program will also test for the flu.

“To help us move not just schools, not just businesses but really to create a level of insight of how COVID transmission is moving in our state,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, CA Health and Human Services Secretary, said. 

Wednesday’s announcement comes as the CDC issued new testing guidance, no longer recommending asymptomatic people get tested, even if they’ve been exposed to the virus.

“I don’t agree with the new CDC guidance period full stop. It’s not the policy in the state of California, we will not be influenced by that change,” Newsom said.

The update comes as the governor prepares to release a new reopening strategy in California.

He said those new guidelines will be out Friday.

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