In March, as the COVID-19 pandemic gained a visible foothold in New York City and infected hundreds of thousands of residents, Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian faced a task unlike any they had encountered before.
How would they quickly establish a reliable diagnostic testing program to identify patients and healthcare workers who had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, amid a rapidly escalating public health crisis? To accomplish such a task, the institutions would have to prove that newly developed commercial tests accurately diagnose the coronavirus, while simultaneously expanding the operations and hours of pathology laboratories to handle an influx of patient samples.
In this environment, Weill Cornell Medicine’s medical laboratory directors and scientists developed a COVID-19 testing program that, when launched on March 11, analyzed 300 clinical samples a day, in addition to conducting non-COVID related tests. Some seven weeks later, those same laboratories can process up to 2,000 COVID samples daily and are operational 24 hours a day, so that physicians have the most accurate information to guide treatment for suspected COVID-19 patients who come to Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.