Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Mason brothers’ risky Racine COVID test lab

Empower Wisconsin | Sept 15, 2020 

MADISON — The City of Racine City Hall Annex has been transformed into a laboratory where city employees work with a highly contagious virus that has killed nearly 200,000 people in the U.S. — more than 1,200 in Wisconsin. 

And Racine city officials don’t seem at all concerned about the potential safety and liability hazards. 

Sources with backgrounds in biotech tell Empower Wisconsin city leaders and Racine citizens should be very wary of the dangers of a COVID-19 experiment they say has no business being conducted on city property.

Coming home

In July, mainstream media outlets began doing feature stories on Christopher Mason’s research. Mason, associate professor and systems biology wunderkind at Weill Cornell Medicine, is looking for a faster way to test for COVID-19. Mason also just happens to be the brother of Racine’s liberal Mayor Cory Mason, a fact that raises some conflict of interest questions. The scientist, the stories note, came home to turn his hometown into a cutting edge laboratory in the fight against a relentless and deadly pandemic. 

Professor Mason is working alongside Alison Kriegel, PhD, associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Mason, despite promising otherwise, did not return Empower Wisconsin’s multiple requests for comment, nor did he answer questions directly put to him in an email. 

As Fox6 explained in late July, the researchers established a mobile lab in the Racine City Hall Annex. They have employed city firefighters to collect “a few milliliters of saliva from city employees taking part in the study.” 

“We’re cooking the saliva at 95 degrees for 30 minutes to essentially kill the virus. And then from there, we’re testing it,” Chief Brian Wolf of the Racine Police Department, told the news outlet. 

The idea, officials say, is to limit the chance for spread within the lab.

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