A group representing tens of thousands of laboratory workers is urging the White House coronavirus task force to address the “critical needs of America’s clinical laboratories,” namely the lack of testing supplies and protective equipment at labs across the country, saying “significant barriers” remain that limit labs’ abilities to meet demand.
“At this point, the biggest barrier to testing is not capacity, but access to vital supplies,” wrote Carmen Wiley, the president of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry in an April 16 letter to Dr. Deborah Birx, who sits on the White House coronavirus task force.
The group represents more than 50,000 lab and diagnostic professionals.
The letter stated that nasal swabs for specimen collection as well as other test components remain in short supply.
“Unless and until these supply chain issues are resolved, the nation’s laboratories will remain stymied in their attempts to maximize their testing capacity,” Wiley wrote.
Wiley added that lab professionals who collect and process specimens are frontline workers who require protective equipment, including gowns, masks, gloves, and face shields, and therefore increased production and disbursement of such items “is vital to ensuring the safety of those individuals.”
In an interview with CNN, Wiley said she felt it was important for the voices of the actual lab workers to be heard, “because we felt there was a disconnect between the theoretical capacity of tests that can be run and what we're actually experiencing.”