Update on COVID-19 Outbreak

Commercial Labs Working Closely with Public Health Partners, Stand Ready To Support Increased Test Capacity If Needed

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  In response to the latest developments and spread of the COVID-19 in the United States, ACLA President Julie Khani released the following statement:

“As part of our commitment to supporting the emergency preparedness and public health of the United States, commercial laboratories are ready to support increased testing capacity for the novel coronavirus response, if needed.

In addition, as has been publicly reported, some ACLA members are working to develop novel tests for COVID-19, as well as supporting other ways to bolster testing capacity.

In any outbreak, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratories, supported by state public health laboratories, have primary responsibility for diagnosing patients. Currently, the CDC and other public health labs are the only entities authorized to provide testing for COVID-19 in the United States. At this time, commercial laboratories are not collecting, processing or transporting specimens for COVID-19 testing from patients suspected of having, or confirmed to have, COVID-19.

In the event that demand for testing exceeds the capacity of state and local public health labs, commercial laboratories stand ready to work closely with health officials to meet that demand, testing specimens sent in by clinicians, if needed. In recent public health emergencies, including the SARS and Zika outbreaks, commercial laboratories have supported public response and expanded test capacity.

ACLA has a memorandum of understanding with the CDC, the Association of Public Health Laboratories, and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists to strengthen coordination in the event of public health emergencies. Over the past several weeks, the CDC has been actively utilizing ACLA and the MOU to keep ACLA member laboratories with infectious disease expertise informed on the progression of the current outbreak, the government response, and how our member laboratories can best be prepared to support those efforts.”

To learn more about ACLA’s ongoing collaborative efforts to strengthen communication and coordination between public and private sector partners, including our participation in the CDC’s tabletop exercise last year, click here.


ACLA is a not-for-profit association representing the nation’s leading clinical and anatomic pathology laboratories, including national, regional, specialty, hospital, ESRD and nursing home laboratories. The clinical laboratory industry employs nearly 295,000 people directly, and generates over 117,000 additional jobs in supplier industries. Clinical laboratories are at the forefront of personalized medicine, driving diagnostic innovation and contributing more than $106 billion to the nation’s economy.

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