Fresno Co. approves new measure regulating biolabs

The county’s new ordinance is in response to the Reedley biolab that was operated by a Chinese national and discovered nearly a year ago.

Fresno County finally has its answer to stopping the secret Reedley biolab from happening again. 

Tuesday, the county introduced the Fresno County Infectious Materials Ordinance and will look to officially approve it in January. 


The big picture: The ordinance gives the county the authority to conduct onsite visits on private property and evaluate if labs are in compliance with hazardous materials laws and other general applicable clinical laboratory safety requirements. 

  • Labs, doctors offices and hospitals that are regulated by the federal government through Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) are exempt from the ordinance since they are already monitored. 
  • Fresno County Director of Public Health David Luchini told the board that the county is not currently aware of any private labs that would be inspected by the county through this ordinance. 
  • If the county does discover an eligible lab, the Public Health Department would send a team from its Hazardous Materials Program and its Public Health Laboratory to conduct annual onsite visits to confirm compliance. 

Driving the news: The Board of Supervisors unanimously supported the ordinance on Tuesday, setting the second hearing for Jan. 9, 2024, at which they will approve it. 

  • The board also directed county staff to draft a Memorandum of Understanding that the county can use to agree to deals with cities that gives the county the authority to go onto private property to inspect labs within the cities. 

What they’re saying: “This is our effort of addressing this issue here in Fresno County, but at the end of the day we need the federal government to step in and make the true fixes that stop these type of laboratories all across our nation,” said Supervisor Steve Brandau. “Although this is a great step – I’m glad to be supportive and participating today – we’re looking for more from our federal partners. Just having a committee examine what happened is one thing, but now to come with solutions is what we really need.” 

  • Fresno City Council member Garry Bredefeld issued his own statement, blaming the County for being slow to react.
  • “Nearly 12 months after the County of Fresno learned about the dangerous, Chinese-run Reedley lab, then hiding it from the public for eight months and whining there was nothing they could do, and more than two months after the City of Fresno instituted new policies to regulate laboratories, they finally have their own policy. Like so many things – from this illegal lab to our foster care system with children sleeping on floors – only a crisis will force the Board of Supervisors to act because they so often fail to meet their oversight responsibilities.”
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