What started as a mission to take care of our employees during the early days of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic quickly grew into the pursuit of solutions for the broader community. This is the story of how the people and teams of Exact Sciences rose to meet the challenge of a global health crisis by deploying our expertise and passion to get people needed answers.
MADISON, Wis. — On May 4, 2020, Wisconsin governor Tony Evers announced the U.S. state's capacity for COVID-19 testing reached 85,000 tests per week. For the first time, many in the Badger State could see a path forward. Harder to see was the work that went on behind the scenes to make the state’s progress against a previously unknown virus possible.
It started in early March, with the leaders of three Dane County, Wisconsin headquartered companies: Kevin Conroy, chairman and CEO of Exact Sciences, a cancer diagnostics company; Judy Faulkner, CEO of electronic medical records company, Epic Systems; and Bill Linton, the chairman and CEO of Promega, a world-renowned life sciences supplier.
Talking among themselves, the CEOs concluded COVID-19 would make business anything-but-normal for the foreseeable future. They also recognized each company had unique capabilities that could help limit the impact of COVID-19 in Wisconsin.
Reaching out to Governor Evers and Wisconsin Department of Human Services secretary-designee Andrea Palm, they found open ears and strong support. The full weight of the state government and Wisconsin National Guard were added to the effort.
Soon, teams were deep into their work. Tasks that would normally take months were completed in weeks.
At Exact Sciences, staff and engineers retrained equipment which looks for DNA associated with colorectal cancer to look for coronavirus instead. The company’s deep scientific and laboratory expertise proved transferable, allowing Exact Sciences to quickly stand up accurate, high volume COVID-19 testing.
Promega helped supply the reagents (ingredients) needed to run COVID-19 tests on these machines.
Epic layered on software capabilities needed to quickly transfer test results from the lab to state officials and health care providers.
Additional health systems and labs joined in. American Family Insurance and CUNA Mutual contributed project managers to the job.
“None of this would have been possible without leadership from the State of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network, and the herculean efforts of each company’s teams,” said Conroy. “Our employees worked around the clock, knowing the long hours they put in were critical to the community efforts to defeat the virus.”
Secretary-designee Palm says the work ahead is the hard part: getting people tested, thorough contact tracing, continuing to follow physical distancing, and implementing safe business practices.
“COVID-19 impacts every resident of Wisconsin. It is something we must defeat through ingenuity, hard work, science, and collaboration with our partners across the state.”
About Exact Sciences SARS-CoV-19 Test
The Exact Sciences Laboratories SARS-CoV-2 test has not been FDA cleared or approved. This test has been authorized by FDA under an EUA for use by authorized laboratories.
This test has been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS- CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens.
This test is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostic tests for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the authorization is terminated or revoked sooner.