The Journal Gazette
Saturday, September 11, 2021 1:00 am

State taps firm to expand COVID testing sites

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Health is ramping up free COVID-19 testing across the state as the latest surge has made it harder for Hoosiers to find a test.

The state will partner with Gravity Diagnostics of Covington, Kentucky. The company will provide the staff and supplies needed to collect and analyze up to 5,000 COVID-19 tests per day, including rapid antigen and PCR tests.

A news release said the testing operation will scale up in the coming weeks and be able to expand to 45 sites as the need warrants. Sites will remain at designated locations for fixed periods to increase the availability of testing in communities that currently lack adequate testing resources.

The contract will run until June 30, with an option to extend if needed. There was no information given on the cost of the contract.

“Gravity has been an incredible partner throughout the pandemic as part of our lab testing network, and its business model allows for a nimble approach to ensure testing is placed where it is most needed and that results are received quickly,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said. “Having Gravity on board allows us to offer testing in communities with higher need for longer periods so that our mobile units can continue to host shorter testing and vaccination clinics in other areas of the state.”

Testing had dipped to fewer than 10,000 tests a day in early July but has spiked to a seven-day moving average of about 45,000 a day.

On Friday, more than 60,000 new tests were reported.

The state signed Gravity to a $29 million contract in December 2020 to perform up to 5,000 tests a day. That contract has been extended twice and is set to end this December.

A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Health said Gravity has been involved in processing lab specimens for the state previously and the new contract “expands that role by having them take testing to communities.”

While community testing is the initial focus of the partnership, the agreement also offers the option to provide voluntary testing in K-12 school settings statewide. Under that provision, Gravity will coordinate with schools directly to determine their interest in testing. Details are being finalized.

Only about 10% of Indiana's schools currently provide some testing with the help of federal dollars.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, Gravity Diagnostics has been committed to providing those most in need with gold standard PCR testing and a turnaround time that allows for the fastest clinical response so that providers can treat, isolate or make other informed healthcare decisions,” said Tony Remington, CEO of Gravity.

“Unfortunately, we are back to a higher overall positivity rate that makes testing one crucial component to a much larger effort in order to lower the rates. We remain committed to providing that service.”

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