Using federal funding, Idaho State University and the Idaho Division of Public Health are teaming up to speed up coronavirus testing in Eastern Idaho.
The new “high-throughput” equipment will run 60 to 90 tests in 90 minutes, producing up to 500 test results daily. Currently, tests are processed one at a time, taking roughly 90 minutes apiece.
The new equipment will make Southeastern Idaho a regional COVID-19 test processing hub, ISU said in a Thursday news release.
Money for the equipment will come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, a $2 trillion federal stimulus law. This summer, Gov. Brad Little earmarked $3 million from Idaho’s share of CARES Act money to improve Idaho’s coronavirus testing capacity.
In May, a gubernatorial task force said Idaho should run at least 37,000 tests weekly, and possibly up to 163,200 tests weekly. Idaho’s rate peaked at slightly more than 20,000 tests per week in July and August, and has tailed off since then.
The equipment will be housed at an Idaho Falls lab for now. When high-volume coronavirus testing is no longer necessary, the equipment will be moved to the ISU campus, and used for research.