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Sonora Quest to vastly expand virus testing capacity in Arizona

(Getty Images/Lisa Maree Williams)

PHOENIX — Sonora Quest Laboratories is planning to significantly increase its coronavirus testing capacity and produce results much faster as part of a new initiative called Operation Catapult.

The diagnostic laboratory testing company announced Thursday it will partner with the Arizona Department of Health Services and a company called Perkin Elmer in undertaking this new effort.

“Operation Catapult is intended to accelerate significantly our ability to offer testing each day from where we are today to ultimately 60,000 tests per day by the end of August,” Sonora Quest Laboratories Chief Operating Officer Sonya Engle told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

That’s a big jump from its current capacity to process 6,000 to 7,000 tests per day for COVID-19.

“We’re able to increase our testing in this way by bringing in a third platform, additional instruments and testing through Perkin Elmer that will enable us to test the 60,000 per day,” she said.

Sonora Quest plans to gradually increase its daily coronavirus testing capacity by 7,000 each week. The hope is to be able to process 35,000 tests per day by the end of July and 60,000 by the end of August.

Engle said the goal is also to have test results available within 24 hours for anyone tested. Currently, the turnaround time for results is 7 to 8 days. The turnaround time has increased over the last few weeks due to the high demand for COVID-19 testing.

The state and AZDHS are supporting Sonora Quest in this effort by providing $1 million for the purchase of the new processing equipment from Perkin Elmer.

Sonora Quest performs about 80% of Arizona’s diagnostic testing for the coronavirus. Since March, it has performed and reported results of about 500,000 diagnostic COVID-19 tests.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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