Wake schools will use 'pool testing' to quickly, cheaply identify coronavirus outbreaks
Eleven Wake County public schools on Monday began weekly testing of students for coronavirus in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, and the district plans to expand the testing program to all of its schools by next year.Posted — Updated
Raleigh-based Mako Medical is handling the tests, part of the company's growing list of school clients nationwide. Mako is testing students and staff at more than 700 schools in North Carolina, as well as schools in South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Ohio, Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland and Louisiana.
The company's lab in Henderson has grown from 30 employees before the pandemic to more than 500 now, and it tests about 30,000 samples a day, with enough capacity to push that total to 150,000 a day.
The company uses "pool testing" to speed the process, combining 10 samples for a test. The individuals involved in each pool need individual retests only if the initial test comes back positive.
Pooling the tests is faster because a majority of tests return negative, and it's cheaper because 10 samples can be tested for $15 instead $15 for each individual test, Tugwell said.
“As we’ve done more and more of the testing, we are starting to see an increase in the number of positives," he said.
Even with multiple machines, Tugwell said a Mako employee analyzes every positive test.
"They understand that each one of these tubes is a person that is depending on getting that result," he said.
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