The UC Santa Cruz Molecular Diagnostic Lab opened its doors on May 1, becoming one of four facilities in Santa Cruz County capable of processing tests for COVID-19.

The lab has the theoretical capacity to process upward of 800 COVID-19 test samples per day, though its initial test volume will be smaller, said Jeremy Sanford, a UCSC professor of molecular, cell and developmental (MCD) biology.

“We are planning to start with 200 tests per day, and gradually increase as we become more familiar with the process,” Sanford said in an email. “At this point, the county needs as much testing capacity as possible.”

Sanford hopes UCSC’s lab will be able to turn around tests in 24 to 48 hours. Though the lab will initially only be processing samples collected by UCSC’s Student Health Center and the Santa Cruz Community Health Center, it plans to expand this register over time. 

As of May 2, there have been 134 recorded cases of COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County, and 3,983 residents, or 1.4 percent of the population, have been tested. By comparison, as of April 29, 654,985 people have been tested for the disease in the state of California, representing about 1.7 percent of the population.