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Florida’s New COVID-19 Antibody Testing Lab on Wheels

Posted by Gerald Lombardo on Thursday, May 7th, 2020 at 11:15am.

The COVID-19 response in Miami-Dade got two upgrades Wednesday: the opening of a mask decontamination facility at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens and a mobile testing laboratory that can process 500 tests per day from long-term care facilities around the county.

“We believe this will be a game-changer,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis, who toured the facilities Wednesday.

The decontamination facility is made up of four shipping containers that can clean 80,000 N95 respirator masks per day, at no charge to healthcare personnel and hospitals or long-term care facilities. The system uses hydrogen peroxide vapor to clean used masks, which can be cleaned and reused up to 20 times.

According to the Miami Herald, While the decontamination facility is only located in Miami-Dade, the state is coordinating with FEMA to have additional Florida sites as needed.

DeSantis said the facility could help reduce the strain on the supply chain as well as the state’s reliance on countries like China for supplies.

“As many people know, this PPE was a major crunch, particularly in March — China had known what was going on,” he said. “They specifically bought up a lot of this stuff really to try to screw over the rest of the world, which they’re going to need to pay for doing that.”

He also introduced the state’s first mobile testing lab, which will process 500 COVID-19 tests per day using a 45-minute rapid Cepheid swab test. The mobile lab is outfitted by StatLab Mobile, a Miami-based blood-testing company, and will start testing residents and staff at long-term care facilities in the county.

Cepheid tests involve taking a swab sample and inserting it into a special cartridge that already has reagents that test for COVID-19.

The mobile lab strategy is to build a “hub and spoke model” where the lab sets up in an area near multiple long-term care facilities, DeSantis said. The lab will be operated by 10 National Guardsmen and 10 contracted nurses.

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