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The testing situation

Thursday, Apr 9, 2020

* Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line

Pritzker announced Wednesday the state has acquired five high-volume RNA extractors, each of which should be able to run 200 tests per hour, from Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific.

However, the machines — distributed to Illinois’ three state labs — are still not running at the speed promised and are not giving lab technicians “the level of output that we want to see,” Pritzker said.

“More importantly, these tests are not producing valid results in a way that meets our exacting standards,” Pritzker added. “I am as impatient as the rest of you are, wanting to increase testing, but I will not sacrifice accuracy for the sake of speed. The tests and results they will provide are too important. We have to get this right.”

As a result, Illinois state labs will not be using the Thermo Fisher machines until they produce reliable results.

I was told by the administration yesterday that they tested those Thermo Fisher machines by feeding it samples from known positive patients, but the Thermo Fisher results were often coming back negative. The administration doesn’t want to deploy machines that aren’t reliable, of course, so they’re still working with the company.

* Back to Hannah

Much touted tests from Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories that promise to give results for positive cases in as little as five minutes and negative cases as fast as 13 minutes will not help Illinois close the gap in testing, Pritzker said Wednesday.

Although the state received 15 Abbott machines last week from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Abbott’s promises to provide enough supplies to perform 88,000 tests per month will not materialize, Pritzker said.

The federal government “waylaid” the tests and sent them to private entities, such as private hospitals and labs, according to the governor.

“Unfortunately, it is our understanding now that the federal government redirected most of these early tests to private systems without our state input about where the tests would make the most impact,” Pritzker said. “Some of those machines will end up in Illinois and so that’s good. But not what we had expected, and we won’t have as many as we expected.”

Pritzker told reporters yesterday that the state only received 120 total tests. “That’s eight tests per machine for all of Illinois,” he said.

* So, what about private testing labs? Pritzker yesterday…

If we wanted to choose an easy, but less effective path, we could increase testing capacity through private labs used by the federal government. The problem is those labs take seven to 10 days to produce a result. People can end up on a ventilator before they ever get their testing result. That’s just not a timeline that I want to bet on.


* Pritzker laid out the path ahead…

No matter how much is beyond our control the buck stops with me. […]

We’re charting our own path forward. I’m putting my faith in the scientists and technicians, the academics and innovators here in Illinois to expand our test results. […]

Our researchers are working in an expedited fashion to get this additional new testing up and running, as soon as possible and distributing it to other institutions beyond our state labs that have our same type of equipment to continue increasing capacity statewide.

To ensure a steady stream of supplies, our in-state universities and local laboratories are creating our own raw materials, instead of relying upon the global supply chain, which is frankly in disarray. Our institutions are developing and distributing their own viral transport medium, known as VTM, and the necessary reagent locally. […]

We’re now running three shifts at one of our state labs, with the other two moving to match their capacity soon. And more than 96 locations across the state are now collecting specimens, this capacity has brought us the increase that we have already achieved. Today we surpassed 6000 tests in a 24 hour period.

* I was also told by the administration yesterday that Walgreens will start offering tests here “in the next few days.” The company is apparently getting some personal test kits, which people can use to test themselves for the virus.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:46 am:

    =…I will not sacrifice accuracy for the sake of speed.=

    Thank you, JB.

  2. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:52 am:

    I remember the founders famous saying, “private profiteering over American lives.”

  3. - SAP - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 10:53 am:

    ==No matter how much is beyond our control the buck stops with me.==

    Thank you for saying this Governor.

  4. - FinanceCity - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 11:00 am:

    I waited 12 days for my test results that were sent to a private lab. Luckily it was negative. Hopefully they can get these results faster because that is the only way we can get people back to work.

  5. - Sonny - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 11:52 am:

    Thanks for nothing Abbott. We need to keep receipts of who stepped up when it mattered.

  6. - dbk - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:00 pm:

    –The federal government “waylaid” the tests and sent them to private entities, such as private hospitals and labs, according to the governor.–

    Sounds like a worthy topic for an investigative reporter to have a go at.

  7. - northsider (the original) - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:06 pm:

    It’s bad out there & my heart goes out to those affected and for those with high risk conditions who are living in constant dread. I am thankful that we have a governor who seems to be smart, compassionate and accountable. In this odd time of every state for itself, we are better off than many states.

  8. - former southerner - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:08 pm:

    Sonny, did you not comprehend the very clearly laid out story. Our lovely and incredibly incompetent federal leadership appropriated the machines so Abbot didn’t have a choice where to send them.

  9. - Flapdoodle - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:19 pm:

    Before rank gets its privileges, it must fulfill its responsibilities.

    Pritzker gets this — he’s willing to step up and say the buck stops with me, here’s what I’ve decided and why, here’s what’s worked and what hasn’t. My God how refreshing that is in this day and age of political weaseling and denial of accountability on all sides.

  10. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:20 pm:

    == Sounds like a worthy topic for an investigative reporter to have a go at.==

    Considering the magnitude of the situation, sounds to me like a worthy topic for the attorney general to have a go at.

  11. - Keyrock - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:27 pm:

    Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been working on the government’s diversion of supplies, as has the LA Times. They’re having trouble getting people to go on the record, apparently because of a fear of retaliation from the US government.

  12. - Demoralized - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:49 pm:

    ==Thanks for nothing Abbott.==

    Umm, the feds took the stuff. Abbott did their part.

  13. - Demoralized - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 12:52 pm:

    == He’s struggling to pick a lane.==

    It’s the feds that need to pick a lane. The President has been complaining that the Governor’s should be taking the lead and then the feds keep raiding the supplies the Governor’s are trying to secure.

  14. - Keyrock - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 2:05 pm:
    Updated, from TPM.

  15. - DownSouth - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 2:07 pm:

    Testing remains iffy and bit problematic in some areas of southern IL. I don’t mean that to sound divisive, or that I feel we have been forgotten. I do not feel we have been neglected. It’s just slower to show up here, we are a different timeline of sorts.

    I understand the need for more tests to be provided and utilized and in the more populated areas, as well as those with higher case numbers, more that need tested.

    My fear is though, that many cases here are being missed or simply just labeled probable because there are still not great numbers of available tests.

  16. - Lynn S. - Thursday, Apr 9, 20 @ 2:31 pm:

    Regarding at-home test kits:

    The thing with Covid-19/Corona virus testing is that the nasal swab has to go a long way into your nose, almost to the point where your nose and eyes meet.

    It has to go a long way down your throat.

    I have not had a Corona virus test, but sounds uncomfortable as *heck*.

    I am not convinced that John or JoAnn Q. Public, with no medical training, will be able to do this test correctly, especially if they are self-administering.

    So now you’re getting incorrect results, and wasting money in the process. (No disrespect intended towards the test manufacturer.)

    And folks will either run around, spreading the virus, because of a false negative, or flood medical facilities because of a false positive.

    Neither of these outcomes is good.

    I pray to God I’m wrong about this, a worrywart for no reason.

    But my stomach hurts, just thinking about it.

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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Pritzker thanks Dr. Ezike, extends financial protections, points to progress, says no more daily COVID-19 briefings - Calls Trump tweets "reprehensible" - "I want to send my condolences to the family of George Floyd, and also to every African American in this country" - Defends budget decisions - Credits Illinoisans for progress against virus - No bill signing ceremonies - Hopes testing progress continues - "It seems as if President Trump is withdrawing us from the rest of the world" - No out of state travel plans - Talks contact tracing - Asks Illinoisans to be careful during reopening - Will sign Medicare for undocumented seniors bill - Refuses to criticize Lightfoot for Trump comments - Talks about difficulties in securing testing locations - Dr. Ezike and Pritzker respond to question about what they've learned about themselves and leadership - "We're no longer in a stay at home order"
* 1,622 new cases, 86 additional deaths
* *** UPDATED x1 *** What in the heck is going on in Rockford?
* COVID-19 roundup
* All metro areas reporting record high unemployment rates
* School seclusion and restraint bill derailed after opposition
* Attorney DeVore asks appellate court to dissolve another TRO
* Question of the day
* Madigan issues new guidance to members, staff
* Architects abandon alternative reopening plan
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition
* House of worship attendance limit expected to be removed from stay at home order
* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Sheriffs file suit against state for refusing to accept jail transfers
* Pritzker says IDPH has offered "suggestions" to churches - Says he's received "pushback" from some private nursing homes - IDPH will file new rule on nursing homes - Still looking at what to do about IDPH rule - Dodges question about Willie Wilson - Employers should use "common decency" when bring workers back - Will wait on feds before making any more budget decisions - Central Illinois hospitalization numbers improve - "We might potentially have to move backwards in the phases - "Not our intention" to make changes to Phase 4 guidance - No plans to dine at restaurant this weekend - No decision about ending daily briefing - Repeats that he has never encouraged police enforcement - Suggests GOP demand for IDES audit could be a "political move" - Still pondering school reopening - All testing is free - Asked about dangers of Legionella in large buildings - Testing and tracing metrics are "internal goals" - Points to federal rules on unemployment and workers who refuse to return - "Difficult for us to open theaters in the near future" - Dr. Ezike talks rules for malls - Dr. Ezike monitoring outbreak at county jail with ICE detainees
* Yesterday's stories

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