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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Officials close Public Health Lab after end to COVID national emergency

A University spokesperson didn’t specify what will happen to lab projects, like take-home STI kits, after the facility’s closure.
Danielle Towers | Assistant Photo Editor
The Public Health Lab opened in August 2020 to process GW community members’ required regular COVID tests.

Officials shut down GW’s Public Health Lab in June, ending on-campus COVID testing operations and halting the development of at-home sexually transmitted infection test kits.

University spokesperson Julia Metjian said officials closed the lab following the cancellation of on-campus COVID testing and contact tracing protocols, which were wound down in May in response to the federal government ending the national COVID public health emergency. The lab’s closure puts a potential end to a project of developing free at-home STI kits, which the lab was fundraising for earlier this year.

Metjian said the Milken Institute School of Public Health incorporated the lab’s remaining equipment into its facilities. In March 2021, officials used $9.2 million in federal stimulus funds to offset the cost of GW’s COVID testing apparatus.

“Equipment has been absorbed into the SPH Labs shared infrastructure,” Metjian said in an email. “It will be used in support of ongoing projects, and will be accessible to researchers at GW that may wish to use it.”

The Public Health Lab opened in August 2020 to process GW community members’ required regular COVID tests, but as time passed, officials began dialing back COVID-related restrictions on campus, including required testing. In May, the lab was fundraising to develop free at-home STI tests as the number of COVID tests the lab processed dropped from 3,000 per day in the 2021-2022 academic year to 300 per week last academic year, according to former lab staff.

Metjian didn’t specify what will happen to the STI kits after the facility’s closure.

The Hatchet scheduled an interview with former Public Health Lab manager Jack Villani to discuss the lab’s closure, but Milken officials postponed the interview due to internal media procedures. When asked to comment further, Villani said Metjian’s statement to The Hatchet reflected any information he would’ve shared in an interview.

Metjian did not specify why the lab closed and declined to comment on what happened to the lab’s staff members after its closure.

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About the Contributor
Rory Quealy, Assistant News Editor
Rory Quealy is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communications from La Grange, Illinois. She is the 2023-2024 assistant news editor for the Health and Research beat.
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