ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Now that the state announced new criteria for testing, the number of New Mexicans getting tested for COVID-19 is soaring. Some companies are already planning how to handle the additional tests. New Mexico’s coronavirus peak is expected in just weeks and the state says they’re ramping up testing.

“New Mexico has more per capita of these kinds of instruments that can run these COVID-19 tests, our national laboratories have these instruments,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “We aggressively went after test kits for every single one of our instruments.”

The state is also expanding who can be tested. Asymptomatic people who were around people with the virus, as well as asymptomatic people in nursing homes and communal places, can now get tested, no longer needing a referral.

TriCore, one of the main labs processing these tests, says as of this week, they’ve added two new testing systems to process the samples. With four total — including the CDC Assay, Abbott m-2000, Diasorin MDx, and Roche Cobas 6800 — they hope to keep up with the demand in New Mexico.

“Our strategy is to use multiple platforms to meet New Mexico’s capacity needs and to be able to maintain testing during potential reagent shortages by any one manufacturer,” said Dr. Karissa Culbreath, Medical Doctor and Infectious Disease Division Chief at TriCore. “We are actively exploring additional testing platforms that would increase capacity for the state and will continue to keep the community updated as these efforts come to fruition.”

Optum New Mexico is one of the area practices offering multiple sites of curbside testing. While they’re prepared for anyone who needs to be tested now, they say that could change down the road as demand increases, with some testing restrictions lifted.

“At the present time, supplies for testing remain available, but in short supply,” said Dr. Ryan Tyner, Chief Medical Officer at Optum New Mexico. “We’ve utilized several of our local partners to supply laboratory testing. Both Quest and TriCore have been very responsive to supplying test kits as needed.”

Madison Cabagua is an Albuquerque local, who is wrapping up her freshman year at home. She attends Villanova University outside of Philadelphia, but returned home after the dorms and campus closed. She was tested in mid-March for the virus when she showed symptoms after a trip to New York before heading home.

“After the lady did the test, she told me that it should be 72 hours for the test results to come back,” said Cabagua, who took the test on March 14. “I called multiple times and each time it was pending until I heard back on March 24.”

She says while she was told 72 hours at the testing site and 72 *business* hours when she called Lovelace, it took over a week to get her results.

“It was kind of scary and overwhelming because for me the reason, I was staying at my friend’s house to self quarantine because I didn’t want to go home to my parents’ house because my mom has this heart condition,” said Cabagua.

Her test was ultimately negative. She says while the wait was frustrating, she hopes the state continues to test more people and get the results back sooner.

Optum and TriCore says with the added capacity to process tests, results can come back as early as 24 hours for priority cases, but for most, the wait is around three days. Right now, testing at TriCore’s lab in Albuquerque gives priority to those who are hospitalized, as well as first responders.

“As we work through the large demand for testing, our focus must continue to be on hospitalized patients, persons under investigation (PUI) by the Department of Health, and first responders, as recommended by the CDC,” said Dr. Douglas Clark, Chief Medical Officer at TriCore. “This prioritization is reflected in our testing algorithms, and we are working closely with our partners at the hospital systems to escalate critical patients on a daily basis.”

TriCore says at this time, there is no longer a significant backlog of untested samples.