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Wait Times Increase for COVID-19 Test Results

July 10, 2020 — Carole Jean Smith, a retired pharmacist in Davie, FL, didn’t consider she experienced been exposed to COVID-19. But she resolved to get analyzed because “I just needed to know.” Her husband, George, goes to a place of work every single working day, and ”that was a problem,” she says. The two were being following all the proposed actions — wearing masks, washing fingers, and social distancing.

So she acquired analyzed June 29, anticipating the outcomes in a couple times. But it took until finally July 9 to discover out she is destructive. She attempted to stay upbeat, but it was hard to wait around. She advised herself: “Probably since they usually are not receiving again to me, they are receiving to the positives very first.”

Delays in receiving examination outcomes are turning out to be a issue nationwide. As the selection of COVID-19 diagnostic assessments have enhanced, backups at the labs that read through all those outcomes have also developed. In addition to creating anxiety in folks waiting for their outcomes, the hold off can slow down attempts by community overall health officials to arrive at some others who might have been exposed.

For most folks, the turnaround time for a COVID-19 examination from Quest Diagnostics has gone from 3 to five times the conclusion of June to 4 to 6 times, says Kimberly Gorode, a firm spokesperson. It’s a one-working day turnaround for precedence one sufferers, including medical center sufferers, folks who are receiving needed medical procedures, and overall health treatment employees with indicators. Quest, one of the greatest labs in the place, says it has claimed outcomes of about 6.6 million diagnostic assessments since the pandemic commenced.

At LabCorp, a further significant lab, the time to report outcomes has also developed, says spokesperson Kelly Smith Aceituno. Until just lately, the firm was in a position to provide outcomes to sufferers on common involving one and 2 times, she says. But due to an maximize in demand from customers and the availability of supplies and devices, the common might now be 4 to 6 times. That turnaround time is a lot quicker for sufferers in the medical center.

On its web page, Healthvana says to anticipate outcomes in 3-five times, but it could be lengthier.

Even Atlanta’s Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, experienced to wait around. She tweeted that it took eight times to get again her outcomes and find out she and two other household members are constructive.

Outcome of Delays on the Pandemic

The extended wait around time does not just maximize strain on folks, who often conclusion up isolating by themselves for a lot of times before finding out if it is needed.

“The lag in COVID tests outcomes is a major issue,” says Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Heart for Well being Protection. “If a examination result normally takes a lot more than five times to return, it likely defeats the objective of the examination, he says. When another person assessments constructive, community overall health officials try to trace and speak to folks that individual might have been close to — called speak to tracing. All those folks also need to have to set by themselves in quarantine and get analyzed.

“We need to have to be in a position to examination in order to recognize scenarios, isolate them, and trace their contacts. And any hold off impedes that course of action,” he says. “It need to turn out to be a precedence to reduce this lag so that tests can be as close to actual time as feasible.”

Audrey Arona, MD, who leads 3 county overall health departments in suburban Atlanta, says their outcomes are getting 6 to 7 times to occur again. The office sent pretty much five,000 assessments to LabCorp last 7 days, she said on WABE’s podcast, “Did You Clean Your Hands.”

“Because of the hold off in tests outcomes, in many cases the quarantine interval for contacts is pretty much around by the time we get to them,” Arona said.

Cara Christ, MD, director of the Arizona Division of Well being Services, says a delayed examination result nevertheless has benefit. She agrees that ”when there is a lag in tests [outcomes], that does indicate there is a lag in reporting to community overall health, and that will make speak to tracing challenging.” But the tracing is nevertheless finished, and “I consider it provides the sufferers some comfort” to know the outcomes, even following a hold off, she says.

Arona says because of the delays, folks need to have to “act as if you are positive” while waiting for outcomes.


In hard-hit Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey declared a collaboration with Sonora Quest Laboratories on July 9. The intention is to provide up to 60,000 assessments a working day by the conclusion of August. According to Sonora Quest Labs, it hopes to give outcomes in 24 several hours.

Previously this 7 days, Adm. Brett Giroir, U.S. assistant secretary for overall health, acknowledged the maximize in wait around instances and said that a lot more quick, ”point of treatment” assessments ought to be out there soon. That ought to reduce the burden on some labs.

The Fda has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to two such assessments, the BD (Becton Dickinson) Veritor Method and the Sofia 2 SARS Antigen FIA.

The Fda cautions that the antigen assessments might not detect all active bacterial infections and might need to have to be verified with the examination normally applied, called a PCR examination.


Cara Christ, MD, director, Arizona Division of Well being Services.

Carole Jean Smith, retired pharmacist, Davie, FL.

Kelly Smith Aceituno, spokesperson, LabCorp.

Kimberly Gorode, spokesperson, Quest Diagnostics.

Healthvana web page: FAQs.

Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar, Johns Hopkins Heart for Well being Protection, Baltimore.

News launch, Sonora Quest Laboratories: ”Sonora Quest Collaborates with Point out and Health care Leaders to Drastically Expand COVID-19 Tests Ability in Arizona.”

News launch, Fda: “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Fda Authorized Initially Antigen Exam to Support in the Rapid Detection of the Virus Triggers COVID-19 in Patients.”

News launch, Fda: “Coronavirus (COVID-19 Update: Fda Issued Emergency Use Authorization for Place of Treatment Antigen Exam.”

WABE, podcast, “Did You Clean Your Hands?” July 9, 2020.

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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