When it became clear early in the pandemic that limited testing capacity would be an ongoing problem, city officials took matters into their own hands.
By September, they had created the Pandemic Response Lab, which is now up and running at nearly full strength and being heralded as a success story.
“This is a homegrown solution,” said Mayor de Blasio. “I want to be clear. This didn't exist. It was put together to address the coronavirus here in New York City, by New Yorkers."
Wednesday the Mayor toured the lab, which now processes 15,000 to 20,000 tests a day and has a current capacity of 30,000. The state-of-the-art facility is run by the Brooklyn-based robotics company Opentrons, and allows for New Yorkers to get test results within 24 to 48 hours.
It will be critical, the Mayor said, to the city's plan for weekly testing in schools.
"We couldn't reopen schools without a facility like this,” he said. “The Pandemic Response Lab gives us a guarantee that tens of thousands of tests can be done and processed every day."
Overall, there are now more than 75,000 COVID tests conducted citywide every day, a number the Mayor hopes will expand closer to 100,000 as cases continue to spike, driving up demand.
City officials say an added benefit of the Pandemic Response Lab is that it's cheap: The cost per test works out to about $28, compared to $100 a test at most national labs.