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Lab capacity has not increased as much as hoped. Photo: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Commercial labs are in a precarious financial position, as the overwhelming demand for coronavirus tests is not close to making up the revenue of other tests that aren't being ordered.

Why it matters: Commercial labs are anchoring coronavirus testing, and testing remains paramount to mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

By the numbers: The U.S. is testing about 150,000 people a day, but that testing capacity has barely expanded in April.

  • Hospitals have partially stymied the effort to increase capacity, Nature reported.
  • Large commercial labs, like Quest Diagnostics, also have major backlogs that have slowed test results.

What they're saying: The surging coronavirus demand is pinching them at a time when other revenue is drying up.

  • "During the last two weeks of March, volumes declined in excess of 40% inclusive of COVID-19 testing," Quest said in a financial filing.
  • The second quarter, which runs from April through June, will be "the worst quarter in lab history," analysts at Robert W. Baird & Co. said in an investor note.
  • Labs continue to call for their own bailout so they can ramp up testing. They didn't get one in the most recent stimulus package.

Yes, but: Labs won other sought-after policies, like deferred Medicare cuts, and billions of lab dollars have been squandered on stock buybacks.

  • Quest has repurchased $3.1 billion of its own stock since 2013, and LabCorp's stock buybacks have totaled $1.5 billion since 2015. Both companies also have a combined $2 billion remaining for stock buybacks.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Sen. Bob Dole at an event put on by the World Food Program where he was awarded the first “McGovern-Dole Leadership Award” in December 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record.