COVID Testing Labs Keep Up With Mandate

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

COVID Testing Labs Keep Up With Mandate

Los Angeles health care workers and school faculty (who are unable to get vaccinated) are now mandated by the state to get tested regularly. In the city and county, municipal employees from bus drivers to police officers are also required to be tested regularly if they do not get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, commercial labs, medical labs and public health labs are tasked with making sure the tests get processed and rapidly turned around. PCR tests, the most accurate kind of COVID-19 test that looks for viral RNA, are only useful if results are given within two days of taking the sample. Any longer than that, and California residents who unknowingly have the virus risk spreading it to more people.

"If it's longer than [two days] then the test results become less useful from a public health perspective," said Jeff Klausner, an infectious disease expert and member of the state's coronavirus testing task force. "The idea initially was to use contact tracing to find out who was positive as fast as possible to disrupt the chain of transmission. But given the huge number of cases that wasn't useful."

Of course, even two days of turnaround time isn't a foolproof way to stop the coronavirus from spreading. Someone could give a sample on one day, contract the virus later that day, and not know until a week later when they take another PCR test. But the state sees it as a more efficient method than contact tracing.

The two-day turnaround time has forced labs to stay open 24/7, with lab workers taking shifts under a rotating cast of managers. Some companies, like SummerBio, have automated the testing process to turn around thousands of results in the span of two days. It's a leap from the start of the pandemic, when companies struggling with inefficient supply were struggling to process tests any shorter than a week.

Labs processed nearly 1.6 million COVID-19 tests for Californians between Aug. 8 and Aug. 14, a big jump from the peak of the pandemic last winter, when labs were processing around half a million tests a day. That number will need to grow exponentially, as mandates send millions of California students and workers to testing sites as the delta variant surges. Klausner said the state has the capacity to process about 4 to 5 million tests a week.

"Right now we're in a way different place than we were [in] March 2020 when it made sense to declare a state of emergency to get prepared," Klausner, a member of the California coronavirus testing task force, said. "Now it doesn't make sense to continue the state of emergency. And we have a lot of laboratory capacity and there's a lot of underutilization."

That's not to say the state may run into problems down the line. Supply shortages, malfunctions in labs that are processing the bulk of tests could net false-positive COVID-19 results, or bring us back to the beginning of the pandemic, when test results took weeks to return and public officials scrambled to create the infrastructure to support mass testing amid supply shortages.

This could also further fuel the spread of the hyper-contagious delta variant.

The California Department of Public Health said it could not provide an estimate on how many workers in California were bound by a testing mandate.

"The number of people mandated to get tested on a regular basis is determined by those who eventually become vaccinated and those who remain unvaccinated. Therefore, it is a fluid number," a department representative said by email.

Here are the top ten labs in the state and how quickly they turned tests for the week of Aug. 8:


  • TESTS PERFORMED: 267,405

SummerBio, which has contracted with the Los Angeles School District, to test students and employees was responsible for approximately 8% of all COVID-19 testing in the first week of August. The company, based in Menlo Park, CA, was founded in 2020 and quickly raised $7.3 million to test for the coronavirus. While LAUSD is its biggest customer, the company has also partnered with UCLA, San Diego Unified School District, and a slew of large companies.

Fulgent Genetics

  • TESTS PERFORMED: 146,836

The ten-year-old diagnostics company Fulgent Genetics has long been involved in genetic testing to screen for hereditary conditions and cancers. It has leveraged its partnerships with hospitals, large companies and cities to test for COVID.

Valencia Branch Lab

  • TESTS PERFORMED: 118,184

Valencia Branch Lab is a public health laboratory north of Los Angeles that has partnered with Color, a startup creating testing kits for hereditary health problems that pivoted to COVID testing during the pandemic. In February, the California Department of Public Health announced multiple samples at the lab were either incorrectly processed or unable to be processed due to lab errors, but the company in charge of the lab said those errors have since been resolved.

Kaiser SoCal


Kaiser SoCal, which comprises 15 hospitals across Southern California, has taken on the lion's share of COVID-19 testing across all medical institutions in the state. The group has two labs that can process 280,000 tests a week.


  • TESTS: 77,232

Quest Diagnostics, another senior diagnostics company that has been doing bloodwork long before the pandemic, quickly added COVID-19 testing to its slew of deliverables. The company's partnership with grocery stores like Safeway and Vons have allowed it to expand their reach.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

“Our True Primal Nature” Dictates What We Buy, Neuroscience-Based Marketing Firm Argues

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

“Our True Primal Nature” Dictates What We Buy, Neuroscience-Based Marketing Firm Argues

At Super Bowl LVII, advertisers paid at least $7 million for 30–second ad spots, and even more if they didn’t have a favorable relationship with Fox. But the pricey commercials didn’t persuade everyone.

A recent report from advertising agency Kern and neuroscience marketing research outfit SalesBrain is attempting to answer that question using facial recognition and eye-tracking software.

Read moreShow less

ComplYant Founder and CEO Shiloh Johnson on Why Tax Knowledge Is Her ‘Superpower’

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

ComplYant Founder and CEO Shiloh Johnson on Why Tax Knowledge Is Her ‘Superpower’

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, ComplYant founder and CEO Shiloh Johnson discusses her journey to building a multimillion dollar business and making knowledge of taxes more accessible.

Read moreShow less

How Token and Tixr Plan To Take on Ticketmaster in L.A.

Andria Moore

Andria is the Social and Engagement Editor for dot.LA. She previously covered internet trends and pop culture for BuzzFeed, and has written for Insider, The Washington Post and the Motion Picture Association. She obtained her bachelor's in journalism from Auburn University and an M.S. in digital audience strategy from Arizona State University. In her free time, Andria can be found roaming LA's incredible food scene or lounging at the beach.

How Token and Tixr Plan To Take on Ticketmaster in L.A.
Evan Xie

When Taylor Swift announced her ‘Eras’ tour back in November, all hell broke loose.

Hundreds of thousands of dedicated Swifties — many of whom were verified for the presale — were disappointed when Ticketmaster failed to secure them tickets, or even allow them to peruse ticketing options.

But the Taylor Swift fiasco is just one of the latest in a long line of complaints against the ticketing behemoth. Ticketmaster has dominated the event and concert space since its merger with Live Nation in 2010 with very few challengers — until now.

Adam Jones, founder and CEO of Token, a fan-first commerce platform for events, said he has the platform and the tech ready to take it on. First and foremost, with Token, Jones is creating a system where there are no queues. In other words, fans know immediately which events are sold out and where.

“We come in very fortunate to have a modern, scalable tech stack that's not going to have all these outages or things being down,” Jones said. “That's step one. The other thing is we’re being aggressively transparent about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. So with the Taylor Swift thing…you would know in real time if you actually have a chance of getting the tickets.”

Here’s how it works: Users register for Token’s app and then purchase tickets to either an in-person event, or an event in the metaverse through Animal Concerts. The purchased ticket automatically shows up in the form of a mintable NFT, which can then be used toward merchandise purchases, other ticketed events or, Adams’s hope for the future — external rewards like airline travel. The more active a user is on the site, the more valuable their NFT becomes.

Ticketmaster has dominated the music industry for so long because of its association with big name artists. To compete, Token is working on gaining access to their own slew of popular artists. They recently entered into a partnership with Animal Concerts, a live and non-live event experiences platform that houses artists like Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg and Robin Thicke.

“You'll see they do all the metaverse side of the house,” Jones said. “And we're going to be the [real-life] web3 sides of the house.”

In addition, Token prides itself on working with the artists selling on their platform to set up the best system for their fanbase, devoid of hefty prices and additional fees — something Ticketmaster users have often complained about. Jones believes where Ticketmaster fails, Token thrives. The app incentivizes users to share more data about their interests, venues and artists by operating on a kind of points system in the form of mintable NFTs.

“We can actually take the dataset and say there’s 100 million people in the globe that love Taylor Swift, so imagine she’s going on tour and we ask [the user], ‘Would you go to see her in Detroit?’ And imagine this place has 30,000 seats, but 100,000 people clicked ‘yes,’” he explained. “So you can actually inform the user before anything even happens, right? About what their options are and where to get it.”

Tixr, a Santa-Monica based ticketing app, was founded on the idea that modern ticketing platforms were “living in the legacy of the past.” They plan to attract users by offering them exclusive access to ticketed events that aren’t in Ticketmaster’s registry.

“It melts commerce that's beyond ticketing…to allow fans to experience and purchase things that don't necessarily have to do with tickets,” said Tixr CEO and Founder Robert Davari. “So merchandise, and experiences, and hospitality and stuff like that are all elegantly melded into this one, content driven interface.”

Tixr sells tickets to exclusive concerts like a Tyga performance at a night club in Arizona, general in-person festivals like ComplexCon, and partners with local vendors like The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to sell tickets to the races. Plus, Davari said it’s equipped to handle high-demand, so customers aren’t spending hours waiting in digital queues.

Like Token, Tixr has also found success with a rewards program — in the form of fan marketing.

“There's nothing more powerful in the core of any event, brand, any live entertainment, [than] the community behind it,” Davari said. “So we build technology to empower those fans and to reward them for bringing their friends and spreading the word.”

Basically, if a user gets a friend to purchase tickets to an event, then the original user gets rewarded in the form of discounts or upgrades.

Coupled with their platforms’ ability to handle high-demand events, both Jones and Davari believe their platforms have what it takes to take on Ticketmaster. Expansion into the metaverse, they think, will also help even the playing field.

“So imagine you can't go to Taylor Swift,” Jones said. “What if you could purchase an exclusive to actually go to that exact same show over the metaverse? An artist’s whole world can expand past the stage itself.”

With the way ticketing for events works now, obviously not everyone always gets the exact price, venue or date they want. There are “winners and losers.” Jones’s hope is that by expanding beyond in-person events, there can be more winners.

“If there’s 100,000 people who want to go to one show and there's 37,000 seats, 70,000 are out,” he said. “You can't fight that. But what we can do is start to give them other opportunities to do things in a different way and actually still participate.”

Jones and Davari both teased that their platforms have some exciting developments in the works, but for now both Token and Tixr are set on making their own space within the industry.

“We simply want to advance this industry and make it more efficient and more pleasurable for fans to buy,” Davari said. “That's it.”