City of Binghamton, UHS and Ithaca based life science company partner to increase COVID-19 testing

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BINGHAMTON, NY – The City of Binghamton is partnering with UHS and an Ithaca based life science company to provide additional coronavirus testing in the community.

Mayor Rich David held a news conference today to announce that the city has purchased an automated COVID-19 testing machine from Rheonix of Ithaca along with a packet of 700 sampling kits.

The $55,000 for the machine and the $17,000 for the kits is coming from federal funds Binghamton received to address the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan is to start by testing Binghamton police and fire employees, then the remainder of city employees and eventually make remaining tests available to non-city frontline workers.

UHS will take the samples and operate the machine known as a Rheonix COVID-19 MDx Assay.

“It’s being called a game-changer in same-day COVID-19 testing. UHS will also purchase an additional work station which will enable us to locally process up to 200 test per day, or 1400 test per week on the 2 work stations,” says David.

UHS Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Doctor Rajesh Dave says that while the testing capability will eventually be used to monitor frontline personnel, patients will come first.

“The first priority, and I think the community needs to know, are our patients. Whether they’re coming in as an in-patient with a suspicion, or they’re coming from a skilled nursing facilities, or they’re coming for testing for elective surgeries or procedures,” says Dave.

Rheonix received an Emergency Use Authorization or EUA from the federal Food and Drug Administration last week and immediately began selling the system to Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca and hospitals in Syracuse and Alabama.

Binghamton is the first municipality to purchase one.

Chief Financial Officer Chris Smith says Rheonix is working with its suppliers to ramp up production.

“Our supply chain is fairly solid. We’ve been working on that for the last 2 weeks. And remarkable. Our vendors, once they knew that we are now EUA authorized, they’re really coming up to speed, getting us our material quickly,” says Smith.

Mayor David says a couple dozen police officers and firefighters will be sampled today as the city and UHS gradually increase their testing.

David says he’s looking to purchase additional sample kits with federal money to further expand testing of non-city employees

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