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Las Vegas contracted with lab at center of COVID test investigation

The city of Las Vegas contracted with Northshore Clinical Labs to provide limited COVID-19 testing early this year, a city representative said this week.

“This was when demand for testing was at its highest levels, and the city was trying to help meet that demand,” city representative Jace Radke said in an email. “The city has not entered into any other contracts with Northshore Clinical Labs, and is no longer affiliated with the company.”

Northshore was the target of a ProPublica investigation that revealed Monday that the lab’s tests frequently gave inaccurate results. A test by the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory found a false-negative rate of 96 percent, meaning that Northshore’s test had missed nearly all positive cases in the sampling.

The city provided testing locations at Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, 500 N. Casino Center Drive, on Jan. 21-23 and on Jan. 28-30, Radke said.

“This clinic had extremely low volume and was closed January 30,” Radke said in an email.

Northshore also operated a drive-thru location at Veterans Memorial Community Center, 101. S. Pavilion Center Drive, on Jan. 22-23, Jan. 29-30, Feb. 5-6 and Feb. 12-13.

“This clinic was demobilized February 13 due to significant reduction in community demand,” he said.

Meanwhile, the city of Henderson distanced itself from Northshore, to which it had provided space for a testing operation.

“Northshore operated their testing site in the parking lot of Whitney Ranch Recreation Center under a standard facility use agreement without any involvement from the City,” Henderson representative Kathleen Richards said in an email.

Although the agreement was for the year, testing was limited to roughly the January and February time-frame, according to Richards, who said she did not know the exact dates of operations.

“The city of Henderson did not have any kind of contractual agreement to provide COVID testing services with Northshore Clinical Laboratories,” Richards said. “The entity obtained a Henderson business license after it was licensed by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the licensing requirements for diagnostic testing labs, to operate a COVID testing site.”

Meghin Delaney, a spokeswoman for Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office, said, “The State’s COVID-19 response coordinator worked with Northshore Clinical, which was set to start a testing program with the City of Henderson, to ensure services would remain uninterrupted and to connect Nevadans to testing during a time of great need.”

The state ultimately rescinded Northshore’s license. Delaney did not respond to a question about whether the state would be taking any further action, such as conducting an audit of the state’s response.

The Southern Nevada Health District did not use Northshore for its testing operations, representative Jennifer Sizemore said.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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