Wall Street Journal
BioReference Labs shut down temporarily in July in a controversial move that helped it win new business and prepare for the coming flu season
Technicians processed incoming Covid-19 tests at BioReference Laboratories in Elmwood Park, N.J.
ELMWOOD PARK, N.J.—In early July, as coronavirus surged across the U.S., one of the nation’s biggest laboratories involved in testing for Covid-19 made a wrenching decision: It would stop accepting new tests for the disease.
The testing facilities of BioReference Laboratories Inc. were overwhelmed, leading to a crippling backlog of thousands of patient samples. To catch up, the New Jersey-based company decided to halt new tests for several days.
“Our backlog was so significant,” said BioReference Executive Chairman Jon Cohen. The plan worked, he says, even though he says his company “took a lot of heat for the pause.” Afterward, average turnaround time for tests at BioReference fell to about two to three days from roughly a week, Mr. Cohen says.
That improved performance, and increasing testing capacity, allowed BioReference to expand its testing services to the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and Major League Soccer, as well as pharmacies such as CVS Health Corp.
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