Wait Times Increase for COVID-19 Test Results

July 10, 2020 — Carole Jean Smith, a retired pharmacist in Davie, FL, did not feel she had been uncovered to COVID-19. But she resolved to get analyzed due to the fact “I just preferred to know.” Her partner, George, goes to a workplace each and every day, and ”that was a problem,” she suggests. Both of those were being following all the recommended measures — putting on masks, washing fingers, and social distancing.

So she bought analyzed June 29, anticipating the outcomes in a handful of days. But it took right up until July nine to obtain out she is detrimental. She tried out to keep upbeat, but it was tricky to wait. She explained to herself: “Maybe since they are not acquiring back again to me, they are acquiring to the positives to start with.”

Delays in acquiring exam outcomes are getting a problem nationwide. As the variety of COVID-19 diagnostic exams have greater, backups at the labs that read through people outcomes have also grown. In addition to causing stress and anxiety in people waiting around for their outcomes, the hold off can slow down tries by public well being officers to get to other folks who may perhaps have been uncovered.

For most people, the turnaround time for a COVID-19 exam from Quest Diagnostics has long gone from three to five days the finish of June to 4 to six days, suggests Kimberly Gorode, a enterprise spokesperson. It truly is a 1-day turnaround for priority 1 sufferers, including clinic sufferers, people who are acquiring desired surgery, and well being treatment staff with signs or symptoms. Quest, a single of the premier labs in the place, suggests it has claimed outcomes of about six.six million diagnostic exams since the pandemic began.

At LabCorp, a further large lab, the time to report outcomes has also grown, suggests spokesperson Kelly Smith Aceituno. Until just lately, the enterprise was capable to provide outcomes to sufferers on common in between 1 and 2 days, she suggests. But because of to an increase in desire and the availability of provides and products, the common may perhaps now be 4 to six days. That turnaround time is more rapidly for sufferers in the clinic.

On its website, Healthvana suggests to anticipate outcomes in three-five days, but it could be for a longer period.

Even Atlanta’s Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, had to wait. She tweeted that it took 8 days to get back again her outcomes and understand she and two other family members customers are positive.

Effect of Delays on the Pandemic

The very long wait time does not just increase worry on people, who normally finish up isolating them selves for many days in advance of acquiring out if it is desired.

“The lag in COVID tests outcomes is a significant problem,” suggests Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Middle for Wellness Protection. “If a exam consequence will take more than five days to return, it probable defeats the function of the exam, he suggests. Once a person exams positive, public well being officers attempt to trace and get hold of people that individual may perhaps have been close to — called get hold of tracing. Those people also need to put them selves in quarantine and get analyzed.

“We need to be capable to exam in get to establish circumstances, isolate them, and trace their contacts. And any hold off impedes that procedure,” he suggests. “It must turn out to be a priority to lower this lag so that tests can be as close to actual time as attainable.”

Audrey Arona, MD, who sales opportunities three county well being departments in suburban Atlanta, suggests their outcomes are getting six to seven days to appear back again. The office sent almost five,000 exams to LabCorp last 7 days, she reported 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 almost over by the time we get to them,” Arona reported.

Cara Christ, MD, director of the Arizona Division of Wellness Providers, suggests a delayed exam consequence continue to has worth. She agrees that ”when there is a lag in tests [outcomes], that does indicate there is a lag in reporting to public well being, and that makes get hold of tracing hard.” But the tracing is continue to done, and “I feel it provides the sufferers some comfort” to know the outcomes, even right after a hold off, she suggests.

Arona suggests due to the fact of the delays, people need to “act as if you are positive” while waiting around for outcomes.


In tricky-hit Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey introduced a collaboration with Sonora Quest Laboratories on July nine. The goal is to provide up to sixty,000 exams a day by the finish of August. According to Sonora Quest Labs, it hopes to give outcomes in 24 hours.

Before this 7 days, Adm. Brett Giroir, U.S. assistant secretary for well being, acknowledged the increase in wait situations and reported that more immediate, ”point of treatment” exams really should be obtainable shortly. That really should lower the stress on some labs.

The Food and drug administration has granted crisis use authorization (EUA) to two these kinds of exams, the BD (Becton Dickinson) Veritor Process and the Sofia 2 SARS Antigen FIA.

The Food and drug administration cautions that the antigen exams may perhaps not detect all active bacterial infections and may perhaps need to be verified with the exam usually made use of, called a PCR exam.


Cara Christ, MD, director, Arizona Division of Wellness Providers.

Carole Jean Smith, retired pharmacist, Davie, FL.

Kelly Smith Aceituno, spokesperson, LabCorp.

Kimberly Gorode, spokesperson, Quest Diagnostics.

Healthvana website: FAQs.

Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar, Johns Hopkins Middle for Wellness Protection, Baltimore.

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

News release, Food and drug administration: “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Food and drug administration Approved First Antigen Take a look at to Enable in the Immediate Detection of the Virus Causes COVID-19 in People.”

News release, Food and drug administration: “Coronavirus (COVID-19 Update: Food and drug administration Issued Crisis Use Authorization for Place of Care Antigen Take a look at.”

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

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All legal rights reserved.

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