(The Center Square) – Just 16 days after sending out a request for proposals for a new state testing laboratory, Rhode Island received a grant to make the project a reality.
Gov. Dan McKeen announced in a Wednesday news release the state has been awarded an $82 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the construction of the Rhode Island Center of Excellence for Laboratory Services.
“Rhode Island is among the leaders nationally in testing, vaccination rates, and a safe economic reopening and building a new State Lab facility simultaneously advances our important public health goals while also catalyzing significant economic development opportunities," McKee said in the release. "New state-of-the-art State Health Laboratories will be able to best serve the people of Rhode Island and accelerate Rhode Island’s innovative health initiatives.”
At the beginning of the month, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, backed by the McKee administration, issued the request for proposals for a new state health laboratory that would also house additional laboratory space.
“RIDOH operates premier State Health Laboratories that impact every person in Rhode Island. RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories are central to our responses to the overdose crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, and they help ensure the health and safety of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and so much more,” Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott said in the release. “This funding announcement is great news for Rhode Island. We are very grateful to the CDC and Rhode Island’s congressional delegation for their support.”
The state is still seeking a site for the laboratory, which, according to the release, it would like to place in the I-95 Redevelopment District or at another public site. The requirements for the laboratory must feature a minimum of 80,000-square feet for the state lab and then an additional 25,000-square feet for additional tenants.
The state cites a bevy of issues with the current lab, including poor ventilation, substandard life-safety systems, aging infrastructure, and an outdated design for a modern lab as reasons for needing an upgrade.