NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Increasing coronavirus testing is a key metric to reopening.

After facing roadblocks trying to secure new tests, New York City called on local businesses to make them right here at home.

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As CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Friday, it’s part of a larger effort that’s creating a new multi-billion dollar industry.

Collab Studio in Brooklyn is now a hub for packaging coronavirus testing kits. It has come a long way from its pre-pandemic business of creating large-scale art installations.

“Leading up to the pandemic, we had a lot of projects on the board, a lot of business for this upcoming year. And everything got shut down and canceled,” Collab co-founder Mark Levin said.


The once-dormant business is back online with 17 new employees. Dozens more will be hired as production ramps up. Most were laid off from area restaurants.

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For two months, Amy Stachofsky was out of work as a test prep tutor.

“It’s great to have money again, but it’s also great to just be helping,” Stachofsky said.

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The Albert Einstein College of Medicine makes the solution for the tests, and a Manhattan company uses 3D printers to make the swabs. In all, 50,000 kits are prepared each week – and are distributed at Gotham Health Community testing sites across the city. That’s marked change from just a few weeks ago when there was a dire supply of tests and personal protection equipment (PPE), from ventilators to masks.

“We New Yorkers will take care of ourselves,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said back on April 21.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Last month, the mayor declared the city would partner with local businesses to create a stockpile, a $3.5 billion effort this year that Economic Development Corporation CEO James Patchett oversees.

“We have people who are experts in manufacturing, people know about science, people who are producing technology like 3D printers, who are coming together,” Patchett said.

The private-public partnerships have created a new industry to respond to the crisis, transforming nearly 70 businesses and creating more than 1,600 jobs.

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re just reinventing ourselves,” Collab co-founder Adina Levin said.

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It’s a literal lifeline as the war against the coronavirus wages on.