Thousands of COVID-19 testing kits to be produced by NYC government

Mayor de Blasio at a roundtable for community and ethnic media in early March. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Believing that testing is the key to avoiding reopening failures in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City will produce tens of thousands of COVID-19 test kits through local institutions this week.

Nostril swabs will be 3D printed by Print Parts, while the Albert Einstein College of Medicine will produce a “transport medium” for the samples — de Blasio announced during a Sunday press conference — in order to track cases at a greater capacity.

By the end of the week, the de Blasio administration expects there to be 30,000 test kits available and 50,000 produced every week on a rolling basis. According to de Blasio, this is a first for New York City in creating a “strategic reserve” of supplies for pandemics.

“What we’re building up will be a massive testing apparatus and the ability to isolate and quarantine people to make sure we put the disease in check and keep it in check. The bottom line is that we have to get this right,” the mayor said. “We’re going to beat back this disease, we’re going to do it with testing, tracing, isolating, quarantine, all of these strategies that work. We’re going to do this on a large scale.”

The three components needed for the test kits are not only the swabs and the transport medium, but also screw-top tubes to protect the samples from contaminants. De Blasio says the screw-top tubes are in ample supply, but the swabs, made in northern Italy, have been in short supply.

The swabs, properly administered by a medical professional, are long enough to reach deep into the nose to obtain a sample. The transport medium, specifically, is a fluid the sample is kept while being taken to the lab.