ROCHESTER, Minn. — Dr. William Morice, the president of Mayo Clinic Laboratories, has been working with labs across the country to process over 1.5 million COVID-19 tests a day.

He said the weight has slowly been coming off the clinic's shoulders over the past few months.

"We are much better prepared," Morice said during a Zoom press conference Monday, Nov. 23. "If this would've been eight months ago, it would be a much more dire situation."

Along with lab tests, there's also been a rise in at-home tests, including saliva tests, which Morice said are becoming a more efficient way to lower the spread of the virus.

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"Of course, the challenge there is that it's a more difficult scenario to be testing for the virus in terms of its detection," he said.

Saliva tests, especially at home, are becoming a more efficient way to lower the spread of COVID-19, according to Mayo Clinic president Dr. William Morice. WDAY file photo
Saliva tests, especially at home, are becoming a more efficient way to lower the spread of COVID-19, according to Mayo Clinic president Dr. William Morice. WDAY file photo

In recent months, the Rochester lab has only been able to process up to 20,000 tests a day, but they get 50,000 through their doors.

Morice said although this backlog is manageable, the hot testing demand may push it over the limit.

"We just keep a close eye and work in close collaboration across the industry to make sure that that remains the case, just because it is putting a strain on the system," he said.

With one or more vaccines on the way for emergency use, Morice said his goal right now is to make sure positive cases are caught and treated early, as he expects the testing demand to keep growing into next year despite having a vaccine.

"There's nothing that's limitless, but it reaches a certain point that where even 500,000 tests in a day can be overwhelmed in a country of 330 million people," Morice said.