Delaware getting COVID-19 testing lab to save money, turnaround time

Delaware State University is converting part of its adult education campus into a COVID-19 testing lab.  (Courtesy of New Castle County)

Delaware State University is converting part of its adult education campus into a COVID-19 testing lab. (Courtesy of New Castle County)

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New Castle County’s government has federal coronavirus relief money to spend. And Delaware State University has empty space at its satellite adult education campus south of Wilmington.

So the two are partnering to create a $5 million lab for COVID-19 processing at the building on Kirkwood Highway.

Delaware State President Tony Allen said the lab will be scientifically useful well into the future.

“A diagnostic facility of this kind enables us to join in this fight,” Allen said. “It builds our capacity as it relates to COVID testing but also as it relates to other infectious diseases. Over the long term, this will be a hub for the region.”

Tests are now sent to labs in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. at a total cost of $90 to $150 per test, according to County Executive Matt Meyer.

Meyer said the price would come down to $50 or much lower by doing it at home, and the turnaround time could be reduced to just hours instead of a few days.

Meyer shares Allen’s long-term vision.

“If there’s any future threat like this that comes, we have the machinery and the know-how to immediately take that scientific knowledge from China or from wherever it comes in the world to put it to use to keep our community safe,’’ Meyer said.

The classroom space is now being transformed into the lab and could start processing tests in December.

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