By early May, NYC will start purchasing and producing 100,000 COVID tests per week

April 14, 2020

Photo of a COVID test by CDC via Wikimedia Commons

“We have scoured the world looking for test kits on the open market. It’s been extraordinarily frustrating,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press conference this morning. Therefore, he announced that Aria Diagnostics, a biotech firm in Indiana that donated 50,000 test kits to the city, has now confirmed that they can start producing this quantity on a weekly basis. Therefore, the NYC Economic Development Corporation will begin purchasing 50,000 of these kits per week starting Monday, April 20. In addition, by early May, local academic and commercial labs, manufacturers, and 3D printers will begin producing 50,000 more test kits per week, with the ambition of increasing this number.

Though the Mayor said this news is “going to be a major, major step forward for this city,” he underscored it by saying that the city will still need a huge number of additional tests to get to a point where there’s no transmission. He also explained that there are three components to a test kit–nasal swabs, the viral transport medium (VTM, or the liquid that the specimen is placed in), and the tubes/caps that hold the liquid. Aria Diagnostics has the ability to produce all of the components. When it comes to those kits being made here in NYC, academic and commercial labs will produce the VTM, while local manufacturers and 3D printers will produce the swabs and tubes.

With this 400,000/month test capacity, the city will now need to ensure that there are labs and personnel that can handle the tests and provide results in real-time. And these workers will need PPE equipment. To that end, current “Made in New York” manufacturing efforts will be ramped up further. Eight firms at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn Army Terminal, and in Manhattan are currently making 240,000 face shields per week. By April 24, this will grow to 465,000 per week with an eventual goal of 620,000. Five firms in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Sunset Park, the Manhattan Garment Center, and Long Island City are making 30,000 surgical gowns per week. By April 24, this will grow to 100,000 per week with an eventual goal of 250,000.



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