NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The number of people getting testing for coronavirus nationwide is growing rapidly, which is causing the biggest laboratories in Tennessee to expand to fit the growing needs.

News 4 received a rare glimpse inside of Aegis Sciences Lab and learned how they’re trying to keep up with the demand.

Aegis Sciences Lab in Nashville is under construction and adding square footage for the third time this year. 

“When we launched we were processing 3,000 samples a day," Mathew Hardison, who is the laboratory director for Aegis Sciences, said. "Now we’re at 15,000 to 18,000 samples a day and will go to 30-thousand at the beginning of September.”

Aegis is using what is called Q-PCR technology. They test samples taken from nose swabs -

“The viral DNA is extracted an analyzed," Hardison said. 

Each of the automated extraction machines cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Test swabs come from all over the country, 43 states. 

“We work with nursing hones, the state of Tennessee, we processed samples from all the prisoners and prison employees in the state of Tennessee," Hardison said. 

Hardison discussed how people have false positives or false negatives..

“There are a whole lot of points where it can fail," Hardison said. 

It could be faulty collection in the field. Hardison said he discovered one man had a false negative because the person collecting samples wasn’t swabbing far enough up people’s noses.

Aegis has tried not to grow too fast that they turn away businesses because they want to protect their turn-around time. 

“We tried to be very measured to make sure we make a 24 to 48 hour turnaround time," Hardison said. 

They are doubling their capacity for the fourth time and that takes a lot of hiring and training.

Aegis started their COVID-19 lab with six people in March. They’ve hired 150 and plan to hire 150 more.

 
 

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