Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26 . (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26 . (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Borough looks at purchasing new COVID-19 testing machine

The platform would be purchased for no more than $400,000, with expected delivery in four to six months.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will vote on an emergency ordinance appropriating $400,000 for a molecular testing platform at their meeting Tuesday. The proposed purchase is aimed at bolstering COVID-19 testing capability.

COVID-19 testing for borough residents is “neither rapid, reliable nor ubiquitous as necessary to protect our communities,” borough administrators John Hedges, Dan Nelson, Brenda Ahlberg and Brandi Harbaugh said in a May 21 memo to the assembly.

Less than 3% of the borough’s population has been tested for COVID-19 — due to lack of a centrally located high-capacity testing, according to the memo.

According to the memo, Mayor Charlie Pierce and both hospitals have decided that purchasing a centralized high-capacity rapid test system would be needed to “protect borough residents and businesses … as the pandemic continues to plague and disrupt our communities.”

The platform — the Cobas 6800 system — would be purchased for no more than $400,000 from Roche Diagnostics Corporation. The platform is in large demand, the memo said, and many of the units are already back-ordered. The memo said annual maintenance costs for the system are $45,000 with an initial expected delivery lead time of four to six months.

“In discussion with CPH the Cobas 6800 is the only unit on the market that meets this size and capacity for the testing needs of COVID-19,” the memo said.

The memo said borough administration will pursue “additional grant opportunities” through the federal COVID-19 relief package for reimbursement. The Kenai Peninsula Borough has been awarded $37,458,449 from the CARES Act, with a first installment of $21,325,715.

The emergency ordinance will be heard at 6 p.m. during Tuesday’s assembly meeting, which will be open to the public virtually via Zoom, using meeting ID 128 871 931.

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