Huntsville lab increases staff, equipment to keep up with increase in demand for coronavirus testing

Currently, Diatherix processes tests for 31 states around the country with Alabama accounting for about 17 percent of its workload.

Posted: Jul 2, 2020 10:38 PM
Updated: Jul 2, 2020 10:59 PM

It's been a long time since folks at Diatherix Eurofins had what they would describe as a "slow day." 

After WAAY 31 visited the facility on the campus of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in late April, the lab went from processing about 3,000 to 4,000 tests per day up to about 7,000 to 8,000. In fact, one day last week they had about 10,000 tests pass through their lab.

Technicians at Diatherix Eurofins work to process coronavirus tests on Thursday, July 2, 2020. The laboratory is continuously working to expand its capacity to process tests in order to keep up with rising demand. Technicians at Diatherix Eurofins work to process coronavirus tests on Thursday, July 2, 2020. The laboratory is continuously working to expand its capacity to process tests in order to keep up with rising demand.

Currently, Diatherix processes tests for 31 states around the country with Alabama accounting for about 17 percent of its workload.

Dr. Jeff Wisotzkey, the chief scientific officer and laboratory director at Diatherix, said the growth in demand was faster than initially anticipated. So they sped up their timeline to meet that demand.

"We're seeing a real, rapid ramp up in the testing requests and we're trying to manage our capacity so that we can handle the requests as they come our way," Dr. Wisotzkey said.

He said the lab technicians work many long hours these days in order to keep pace with the demand. Right now, they're in the process of looking at adding additional staff as well as some robotics to further increase their capacity.

"I've never worked with people that were more dedicated to getting the job done. We ask a lot of them and they're doing it. It's incredible," Dr. Wisotzkey said.

Over the rest of the summer, Diatherix is adding in equipment and renovating an 11,000-square-foot space in a separate building that will allow them to further expand the amount of testing they can handle each day.

In addition to diagnostic testing, there are plenty of other facilities that are currently doing antibody tests. While data is still being gathered about the implications of having antibodies to this coronavirus, it is allowing places, like LifeSouth, to offer the opportunity for those who have antibodies to donate convalescent plasma.

Isaiah Burgin donated blood more than two weeks ago and got tested for antibodies. When he learned on Wednesday that he had them, he scheduled an appointment for the next day to make a plasma donation. 

"If this plasma could be used to treat them and get them well, then I thought it was probably my civic duty to come out and try to help those people out," Burgin said.

And as the technicians continued to plug away Thursday afternoon, Dr. Wisotzkey said the best way the public can thank them for what they're doing is for everyone to do their part in helping to slow the spread of the virus. Those include good hand hygiene, staying physically distant from others and wearing a mask in public. 

"Our folks are exhausted and working almost every day. They're putting in long hours and that would be the message that they would give to our community," Dr. Wisotzkey said.

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 80°
Florence
Scattered Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 78°
Fayetteville
Few Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 75°
Decatur
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 82°
Scottsboro
Scattered Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 78°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 101496

Reported Deaths: 1821
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13578262
Mobile10747221
Montgomery6999153
Madison555035
Tuscaloosa435080
Unassigned406169
Baldwin374429
Shelby338137
Marshall320738
Lee273647
Morgan244320
Etowah220934
DeKalb186614
Calhoun185319
Elmore178339
Walker156265
Houston145913
Limestone139313
Russell13912
St. Clair138120
Dallas134825
Franklin131022
Cullman124612
Colbert123218
Lauderdale121320
Autauga119622
Escambia109417
Talladega108714
Jackson10794
Tallapoosa87879
Dale85629
Chambers84838
Blount8355
Chilton8309
Clarke82710
Coffee7816
Butler77536
Covington75521
Pike7167
Marion59226
Barbour5866
Lowndes57524
Marengo57217
Bullock49311
Hale48726
Bibb4575
Winston45611
Washington45313
Perry4484
Wilcox44510
Monroe4256
Pickens41310
Randolph40411
Conecuh39710
Sumter37019
Lawrence3603
Macon34414
Crenshaw3338
Choctaw29012
Cherokee2888
Clay2785
Geneva2692
Henry2683
Greene25511
Lamar2372
Fayette2275
Cleburne1301
Coosa1063
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128511

Reported Deaths: 1313
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby23943319
Davidson21280221
Rutherford683455
Hamilton654756
Knox494641
Williamson370225
Sumner353873
Unassigned31513
Out of TN302419
Wilson241123
Bradley206615
Montgomery204115
Sevier19479
Putnam187820
Robertson159621
Trousdale15836
Hamblen145615
Washington13822
Blount137315
Maury13299
Madison124423
Tipton123312
Sullivan110615
Hardeman97518
Bedford95511
Macon87313
Lake7980
Loudon7793
Gibson7659
Dickson7433
Bledsoe7272
Fayette7258
Anderson7227
Dyer6969
Henderson6362
Cheatham6229
Obion6194
Jefferson6164
Lawrence6137
Carter5936
Coffee5843
McMinn58320
Warren5674
Rhea5662
Greene5529
Haywood5477
Lauderdale5359
Weakley5295
Hawkins52010
Cocke5145
Roane5102
Cumberland5027
Hardin4938
Monroe46910
Smith4674
Giles40213
McNairy4006
DeKalb3791
Franklin3594
Carroll3526
Lincoln3251
Marshall3254
Johnson3180
White3155
Henry3071
Claiborne2960
Hickman2901
Crockett2855
Campbell2611
Chester2402
Marion2395
Overton2351
Wayne2312
Decatur2263
Polk2245
Grainger2120
Unicoi1800
Benton1731
Union1660
Cannon1590
Jackson1371
Morgan1331
Humphreys1313
Scott1302
Grundy1242
Sequatchie1151
Meigs1130
Fentress1040
Clay840
Perry840
Hancock832
Lewis801
Stewart790
Moore680
Houston630
Pickett401
Van Buren390

Community Events