New $30M state lab in Alabama named for former state health officer

A $30 million state laboratory that opened in 2020 is being named for a former state health officer who now serves as president and CEO of the Alabama Hospital Association, CBS 42 reported Jan. 23.

The lab, which replaced one built in the 1970s, was dubbed the Donald E. Williamson, MD, State Health Laboratory in a Jan. 20 virtual commemoration to guard against the spread of the coronavirus, the report said. It is located in Prattville, about 10 miles north of Montgomery.

Dr. Williamson worked for the Alabama Department of Public Health for 29 years, including as the head of the department from 1992 to 2015. During the pandemic, he has publicly advocated for measures including vaccination and mask-wearing.

The new lab conducts tests for threats including COVID-19, screens every newborn in the state for genetic disorders, identifies the causes of food-borne disease outbreaks, checks well water for bacteria and looks for rabies in animals, the report said.

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