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The CDC Works to Overhaul Lab Operations After COVID Test Flop

Failure to make changes could add to a growing lack of trust in the agency

In early February 2020, Kirsten St. George and her team at New York state's public health lab received a test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to diagnose people infected with the new, rapidly spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).

But, like many labs around the country, it quickly found the test gave inaccurate results. So test samples had to be sent back to the CDC for processing, wasting time and leaving state officials "sort of blind to what the situation was with the disease," said St. George, chief of the laboratory of viral diseases at the Wadsworth Center, one of the nation's largest state public health labs.

"It was extremely unfortunate that it happened at such a critical time, in the early days of this emerging pandemic," she said.

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