Quest Diagnostics CEO Steve Rusckowski told CNBC on Wednesday that the company continues to ramp up its coronavirus testing capacity as more U.S. workers begin to return to their job sites.
Rusckowski, appearing on “Closing Bell,” said Quest Diagnostics is conducting about 80,000 diagnostic tests for Covid-19 per day. It hopes to be at roughly 150,000 daily by the end of June, which translates to around 4 million per month, he said.
“We’ve made significant progress. If you remember, this all started in early March. We actually brought up our first test March 9,” said Rusckowski, who added that a number of factors contribute to Quest Diagnostic’s ability to grow its testing capacity.
He said the company is introducing new platforms throughout its labs to help reach the goal of 150,000 daily tests. In addition to lab processing capacity, it also depends on being able to collect samples from people.
“We need to have the swabs and those capabilities in place to be able to do those kinds of volumes,” explained Rusckowski, while expressing confidence in Quest’s supply chain. Shortages of testing supplies have been an issue in the U.S. during the pandemic.
“We have put a lot of energy around the … capacity for collecting the specimens. That front end is quite important,” Rusckowski added. “We have worked with partners. You probably have seen our drive-thru events with Walmart. We are actually supporting CVS, as well, as they bring up their pharmacies. We’re working with federally qualified health-care centers. We’re working with hospital systems.”
States across the U.S. continue to ease coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses, and some companies have announced intentions to slowly return workers to their job sites. Goldman Sachs, for example, is planning on returning some of its traders and other markets personnel to offices in the U.S. and London in the next few weeks.
In general, public health experts say that widespread access to Covid-19 testing is critical in preventing a resurgence of the virus as restrictions are lifted. It also is important for employee and consumer confidence. The U.S. had run about 15.1 million Covid-19 tests as of Wednesday afternoon, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer effort founded by reporters at The Atlantic magazine.
Earlier Wednesday, Quest Diagnostics announced a new effort to assist companies with Covid-19 testing as they bring employees back to the job. Rusckowski said Quest’s “Return to Work” services will primarily rely on diagnostic tests. But it also will include antibody tests, which can detect whether someone has previously been infected by the virus. The company can also help employers with on-site temperature tests, among other offerings, according to a press release.
Rusckowski said there is variation across industries and geographies in determining how to screen, and possibly test, employees who are back on the job. It also depends on whether someone is a manufacturing worker or an office employee, he said.
“When we work with employers … everyone has a different approach on what we might do,” he said.