The University of Arizona and Yuma County announced that a shipment of 700 sample collection test kits will arrive in Yuma on Wednesday. The sample collection kits are the same as the “test kits” that were delivered last week.
According to the Tuesday situational report by Yuma County, the county plans to use the kits to test the high-risk population, healthcare workers and first responders. Kevin Tunell, spokesperson for Yuma County, said this set of kits came as gift.
“The county is very grateful to the university,” he said. “It just came out of the graciousness of their staff.”
Yuma County is actively collecting specimens at clinics and hospitals and sending those to Phoenix for testing at the Mayo Clinic, which does testing for all of Arizona.
The 700 sample collection kits are the same as the 300 sample kits that were delivered last week to Yuma. Although reported as test kits, the kits that were delivered consist of a nasal or throat swab that can collect a specimen for testing at a lab, a plastic biohazard bag, a vial to keep the specimens safe from contamination and instructions.
The kits are put together by a team of six health care professionals who work with the University of Arizona, including Dr. David Harris, the director of the university’s biorepository, which is where biological specimens are collected.
The president of the university asked the staff to make 100,000 collection kits. Dr. Harris said that he and his staff are prepared to produce 3,000 to 4,000 per day and make them daily in amounts that exceed demand by several thousand. At the same time, Dr. Harris said that they have to make sure they don’t make so many that they run out of storage room.
“We hope that we don’t have to make that many,” Dr. Harris said about the 100,000 requested by the president of the university. “But we’re going to keep making them as long as they’re needed.”
Counties and tribes around Arizona request the kits from the university and ask for a specific number during those requests, and Dr. Harris and his team respond to that demand.
Dr. Harris said he and his team had connections with manufacturers of the specific swabs needed to collect specimens prior to the pandemic, which is why they are able to help put together the collection kits. Beyond that, Dr. Harris said it’s simply a matter of assembly to produce the kits.
He added that the problem with distributing collection kits was initially that the supply of the swabs ran out, and that could be the case again if demand continues for a long time, but he said he doesn’t expect that to be the case any time soon.