Wilk demands halt of auto-renew contract for Valencia COVID-19 lab

PerkinElmer's new laboratory on Livingston Avenue in Valencia opened Friday and is tasked with helping California process an additional 150,000 COVID-19 tests a day. Tammy Murga/ The Signal
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Ahead of an Oct. 31 automatic renewal scheduled for the PerkinElmer COVID-19 laboratory’s $1.7 billion contract, state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, is continuing to put pressure on the California Health and Human Services Agency to ensure accountability on the Valencia lab.

PerkinElmer, a Massachusetts-based diagnostics company, was tasked with increasing California’s daily COVID-19 testing numbers by 150,000 via a no-bid contract with the state at the 134,287-square-foot industrial building on Livingston Avenue.

A review of the lab was conducted by the California Department of Public Health’s Laboratory Field Services earlier this year following allegations of poor management, with results of the report scheduled to be released by mid-March.

PerkinElmer deferred comment to the California Department of Public Health, whose officials were unavailable for comment as of the publication of this story.

The LFS investigation conducted late last year uncovered thousands of inconclusive or erroneous test results coming out of the Valencia lab, Wilk noted in his letter to CHHS Secretary Mark Ghaly, citing reporting conducted by TV station CBS13 in Sacramento, which indicated that fewer than 20,000 tests had been conducted per day as of February — which were billed to the state at a rate of more than 100,000 daily. 

On Thursday, Wilk delivered a second letter to the state, calling for a halt of the auto-renewal of the total $1.7 billion no-bid contract until the final investigative report of the lab is released to the public, as state officials were unable to provide a definitive date on when the final report would be released following Wilk’s first letter delivered on Oct. 11.

“I believe it would be irresponsible to let any contract auto-renew when serious allegations remain unanswered and the report out of public reach,” Wilk stated in his Oct. 21 letter.

Wilk noted the state Public Health’s Turnaround Time Dashboard, which reports testing turnaround times for all the state’s labs, shows that more than half, or 60%, of the Valencia lab’s tests take two or more days to complete, whereas a majority of other labs are making a 24-hour turnaround, according to most recent data from Oct. 10-16

To read Wilk’s letter, visit bit.ly/3Cexp0J 

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