Helping you provide more certainty during COVID-19.

TriCore Reference Laboratories offers a molecular diagnostic test of respiratory specimens for COVID-19 infection. Please find the most up-to-date information on this test in our Test Directory, via the link below or by entering COVID in the test search on our Providers page. Information maintained in the Test Directory includes: list price, CPT code, collection and transport instructions, and turnaround time (TAT).

Omicron Variant Detection in TriCore COVID Testing:

There have been reports that some assays exhibit a target dropout pattern for the new Omicron variant (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure). S gene dropouts do not impact TriCore's current assays or our ability to detect the virus.

We continue to be in close contact with our instrument manufacturers, who perform the testing and analysis against variants and determine assay performance when a new variant emerges. We also continue to send all positive samples tested at TriCore to the NMDOH Scientific Laboratory Division for sequencing.

COVID-19 Specimen Collection and Ordering

  • Only one (1) specimen, a nasopharyngeal swab or nasal swab, is needed for COVID-19 testing. Specimens should be collected as soon as possible once a Person of Interest (PUI) is identified, regardless of the time of symptom onset.
  • As an alternative to viral transport medium (VTM), TriCore can accept swabs in sterile saline or liquid amies
    for COVID-19 testing.
  • Send specimens to TriCore’s Core Lab via normal courier service.
  • Orders:
    • Electronic: order COVID-19. If not an option, order MISREF with COVID-19 as the test name.
    • Manual: write COVID-19 as the test name.
  • List price for our COVID-19 PCR test is $100.

TriCore Turnaround Time

Turnaround time is impacted by changes in volume and availability of testing resources from manufacturers. We are prioritizing testing, ensuring the tests most impacting patient care are processed ahead of surveillance and asymptomatic testing. Based on allocation limits for testing reagents, current TAT on COVID-19 specimens is as follows:

  • TriCore’s current inpatient/ED patient turnaround time is within 24 hours of specimen receipt in the Core Lab.
  • TriCore’s current outpatient turnaround time is approximately 72 hours from specimen receipt in the Core Lab.
    Please indicate this to patients in outpatient clinics and recommend self-quarantine practices during the wait time.

Results Reporting

  • TriCore will call positive results to the provider and notify the Department of Health, and, for hospitalized patients,
    that hospital’s Infection Control.
  • TriCore will report negative results via normal channels for the ordering provider.
  • NMDOH has deployed an online tool for patients to view their COVID-19 test results. TriCore results are included.
    You may refer patients to the NMDOH COVID-19 Patient Results Portal here:

FAQs SARS-CoV-2 Test Performance

The sensitivity and specificity fact sheet, above, offers answers to these frequently asked questions:

  • What is the sensitivity of the test?
  • What is the specificity of the test?
  • How to collect a high-quality specimen for SARS-CoV-2

TriCore’s RESPAN Panel

We have had several inquiries about the respiratory panel (RESPAN) test used at TriCore. RESPAN detects four (4) variants of the coronavirus (OC43, NL63, HKU1, 229E). These strains are different from the SARS-CoV-2 strain. Based on analysis by the manufacturer, our current test will not detect SARS-CoV-2.

TriCore’s COVID-19 (SARS-COV-2) Serological Testing

Unlike molecular tests used to detect the SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA from nasopharyngeal and other respiratory specimens, serological tests are blood tests that are used to detect the presence of antibodies produced by the immune system in response to the infection. TriCore offers this test for specific indications with a provider order. For an overview of the test and the indications for testing, please review the technical note below.