- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 6, 2022

LabCorp, a major lab-testing company, will begin screening for monkeypox and will be able to run up to 10,000 tests per week, the Biden administration said Wednesday.

LabCorp will conduct the testing at its largest facility and accept specimens from across the country. Health care providers can order an orthopoxvirus test from the company to check for suspected monkeypox cases but people cannot walk into a LabCorp location to submit a specimen.

“The ability of commercial labs to test for monkeypox is a key pillar in our comprehensive strategy to combat this disease,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This will not only increase testing capacity but will make it more convenient for providers and patients to access tests by using existing provider-to-lab relationships.”

The CDC statement, which the White House also distributed, comes a week after administration officials announced a strategy to combat mounting cases of monkeypox. This disease is endemic to parts of Africa and features a telltale rash, though is rarely fatal.

The White House strategy document said five commercial labs would begin testing for monkeypox.

The administration is trying to avoid a repeat of mistakes that bedeviled the early response to COVID-19, in which the federal government released a faulty test and belatedly enlisted private and academic labs that could screen for the virus.

The Biden administration said anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox should talk to their healthcare provider about whether or not they need to get tested, even if they don’t think they had contact with someone who has monkeypox.

The disease began spreading in Europe, the U.S. and other non-endemic places in mid-spring, befuddling public health experts.

Over 30 U.S. states have reported cases for a national total of 560 cases, according to the CDC, up from only a few dozen known cases a month ago.

The outbreaks have predominantly impacted men who have sex with men, though not exclusively. Anyone can catch monkeypox from another person through sustained close contact.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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