SECAUCUS, N.J. and IRVING, Texas and BOSTON, Oct. 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX), the nation's leading provider of diagnostic information services, today announced it has formed an agreement with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to provide COVID-19 Kindergarten through Senior (K-12) school testing services to support safer classroom learning throughout the state of Texas. Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), through its Concentric by Ginkgo program, will provide support services, such as online reporting and site staffing, for the program through its K-12 school testing collaboration with Quest.
With thousands of schools eligible for the program throughout over 1,150 districts in Texas, Quest Diagnostics will offer COVID-19 testing services to participating public, private and charter K-12 schools for the duration of the 2021-2022 school year. Quest will perform testing using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and other nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) technologies through its major clinical laboratories in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan areas.
Under the state program, school administrators can elect to implement a testing program that serves students, teachers and staff through pooled testing. Schools and families do not pay for testing. Instead, an Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) ReOpening Schools Grant, through a collaboration among the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and DSHS will cover the costs.
"Quest Diagnostics' expertise in COVID-19 testing can help kids and teachers learn more safely throughout Texas in person this school year," said Chad Richards, Vice President and General Manager, Southwest Region, Quest Diagnostics. "Testing is critical to containing COVID-19's spread and creating safer environments for all of us. We applaud the state of Texas for recognizing the value of testing for children, faculty and staff, and look forward to bringing our high quality and convenient testing capabilities to participating schools in the program."
A national leader in COVID-19 testing for patients and healthcare providers, Quest Diagnostics has deepened its K-12 school testing presence in recent weeks, directly and with collaborators. Quest was named one of the laboratory providers for Ginkgo's recently announced agreement to provide COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during the 2021-2022 school year. Quest Diagnostics also provides K-12 school testing in over 20 states nationwide.
"Our collaboration with Quest Diagnostics and Ginkgo Bioworks is meaningful because our COVID-19 testing practices are now supported by leaders in the healthcare industry," said Lonnie Morgan, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at ResponsiveEd, which is implementing pooled testing across all 85 of its schools in Texas. "By working together, our students, educators, and families have more peace of mind and our classrooms become better places for learning.
"It's a privilege for us to join with Quest Diagnostics and to work alongside educators and public health leaders across Texas to help keep kids in class and COVID out with this program," said Matt McKnight, Chief Commercial Officer at Ginkgo Bioworks and head of Concentric by Ginkgo. "Testing programs like this provide schools with the freedom and flexibility they need to interrupt chains of transmission and reduce disruption to all the incredibly important activities that happen in school communities every day."
Quest is a major healthcare services provider in Texas, and has approximately 4,200 employees across the state.
About Pooled Testing
Pooled testing, which combines specimens (typically nasal swabs) from all consenting individuals in a classroom and runs them as a single test, can significantly increase testing capacity and lower the cost of testing programs. Quest provides pooled testing for schools and other institutions using high quality, validated PCR grade laboratory tests. Pooled testing is a strategy that builds on many measures undertaken by schools and public health systems, including vaccination (for individuals 12 years of age and older), symptom screening, physical distancing and facilities improvements, masks/face coverings, hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment and monitoring of return to school after illness.
This project is supported by the National Testing Action Program (NTAP) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $10B with 100 percent funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the HHS Coordination Hubs. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by the CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit DSHS.Texas.gov.
About Quest Diagnostics
Quest Diagnostics empowers people to take action to improve health outcomes. Derived from the world's largest database of clinical lab results, our diagnostic insights reveal new avenues to identify and treat disease, inspire healthy behaviors and improve health care management. Quest annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States, and our nearly 50,000 employees understand that, in the right hands and with the right context, our diagnostic insights can inspire actions that transform lives. www.QuestDiagnostics.com.
About Ginkgo Bioworks
Ginkgo is building a platform to enable customers to program cells as easily as we can program computers. The company's platform is enabling biotechnology applications across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to industrial chemicals to pharmaceuticals. Ginkgo has also actively supported a number of COVID-19 response efforts, including K-12 pooled testing, vaccine manufacturing optimization and therapeutics discovery. For more information, visit www.ginkgobioworks.com.
Forward-Looking Statements (Gingko Bioworks)
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including statements regarding the provision of certain K-12 COVID-19 testing services. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words "believe," "project," "potential," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "strategy," "future," "opportunity," "plan," "may," "should," "will," "would," "will be," "will continue," "will likely result," and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including but not limited to: (i) the effect of the business combination with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. ("Soaring Eagle") on Ginkgo's business relationships, performance, and business generally, (ii) risks that the business combination disrupts current plans of Ginkgo and potential difficulties in Ginkgo's employee retention, (iii) the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against Ginkgo related to its business combination with Soaring Eagle, (iv) volatility in the price of Ginkgo's securities now that it is a public company due to a variety of factors, including changes in the competitive and highly regulated industries in which Ginkgo plans to operate, variations in performance across competitors, changes in laws and regulations affecting Ginkgo's business and changes in the combined capital structure, (v) the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations after the completion of the business combination, and identify and realize additional opportunities, and (vi) the risk of downturns in demand for products using synthetic biology. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties described in the "Risk Factors" section of Ginkgo's current report on Form 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on September 20, 2021 and other documents filed by Ginkgo from time to time with the SEC. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Ginkgo assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Ginkgo does not give any assurance that it will achieve its expectations.
SOURCE Quest Diagnostics