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As COVID Testing Soars, Wait Times For Results Jump To A Week — Or More

Elliot Truslow went to a CVS drugstore on June 15 in Tucson, Arizona, to get examined for the coronavirus. The drive-thru nasal swab take a look at took lower than 15 minutes.

More than 22 days later, the University of Arizona graduate pupil was nonetheless ready for outcomes.

Elliot Truslow had a drive-thru COVID take a look at at a CVS in Tucson, Arizona, on June 15. CVS advised Truslow to anticipate ends in two to 4 days, however 22 days later, nonetheless nothing.

Truslow was initially advised it will take two to 4 days. Then CVS stated 5 – 6 days. On the sixth day, the pharmacy estimated it will take 10 days.

“This is outrageous,” stated Truslow, 30, who has been quarantining at residence since attending a big rally on the college to reveal help of Black Lives Matter. Truslow has by no means had any signs. At this level, the take a look at findings hardly matter anymore.

Truslow’s expertise is an excessive instance of the rising and sometimes excruciating waits for COVID-19 take a look at ends in the United States.

While hospital sufferers can get the findings again inside a day, individuals getting examined at pressing care facilities, neighborhood well being facilities, pharmacies and government-run drive-thru or walk-up websites are sometimes ready per week or extra. In the spring, it was usually three or 4 days.

The issues imply sufferers and their physicians don’t have info essential to know whether or not to vary their habits. Health consultants advise individuals to behave as if they’ve COVID-19 whereas ready — which means to self-quarantine and restrict publicity to others. But they acknowledge that’s not practical if individuals have to attend per week or extra.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who introduced Monday that she had examined optimistic for the virus, complained she waited eight days for her ends in an interview on MSNBC Wednesday. During that point, she held a variety of conferences with metropolis officers and constituents — “things that I personally would have done differently had I known there was a positive test result in my house,” she stated on “Morning Joe.”

“We’ve been testing for months now in America,” she added. “The fact that we can’t quickly get results back so that other people are not unintentionally exposed is the reason we are continuing in this spiral with COVID-19.”

The gradual turnaround for outcomes may additionally delay college students’ return to high school campuses this fall. It’s already holding some skilled baseball groups from coaching for a late July begin of the season. The lag instances may even foil Hawaii’s plan to welcome extra vacationers. The state had been requiring guests to quarantine for 14 days, however it introduced final month that beginning Aug. 1 that mandate can be lifted for individuals who may present they tested negative within three days earlier than arriving within the islands.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom famous the issue when addressing reporters Wednesday. “We were really making progress as a nation, not just as a state, and now you’re starting to see, because of backlogs with [the lab company] Quest and others, that we’re experiencing multiday delays,” he stated.

The delays even apply to individuals in high-risk, weak populations, he stated, citing a large outbreak at San Quentin State Prison, which has been sending its assessments to Quest. The state is now taking a look at partnering with native labs, hoping they will present sooner turnaround.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious illness professional on the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, stated the lengthy waits spell hassle for people and complicate the nationwide response to the pandemic.

“It defeats the usefulness of the test,” he stated. “We need to find a way to make testing more robust so people can function and know if they can resume normal activities or go back to work.”

The downside is that labs working the assessments are overwhelmed as demand has soared prior to now month.

Azza Altiraifi of Vienna, Virginia, received her COVID take a look at at CVS on July 1. She nonetheless has signs, together with fatigue — however as of July 7, she was nonetheless awaiting the end result.

“We recognize that these test results contain actionable information necessary to guide treatment and inform public health efforts,” stated Julie Khani, president of the American Clinical Laboratory Association, a commerce group. “As laboratories respond to unprecedented spikes in demand for testing, we recognize our continued responsibility to deliver accurate and reliable results as quickly as possible.”

Dr. Temple Robinson, CEO of Bond Community Health Center in Tallahassee, Florida, stated take a look at outcomes have gone from a three-day turnaround to 10 days prior to now a number of weeks. Many poor sufferers don’t have the power to simply isolate from others as a result of they dwell in smaller houses with different individuals. “People are trying to play by the rules, but you are not giving them the tools to help them if they do not know if they tested positive or negative,” she stated.

“If we are not getting people results for at least seven or eight days, it’s an exercise in futility because either people are much worse or they are better” by then, she stated.

Given the lag in testing outcomes from huge lab corporations, Robinson stated her well being heart this month purchased a speedy take a look at machine. She held off shopping for the machine as a consequence of considerations the assessments produced a excessive variety of false-negative outcomes however went forward earlier this month as a way to curtail the lengthy waits, she stated.

Robinson doesn’t blame the massive labs and factors as a substitute to the surge in testing. “We are all drinking through a firehose, and none of the labs was prepared for this volume of testing,” she stated. “It’s a very scary time.”

Azza Altiraifi, 26, of Vienna, Virginia, is aware of that each one too nicely. She began feeling sick with respiratory signs and had hassle respiration on June 28. Within just a few days she had chills, aches and joint ache after which a needling sensation in her toes. She went to her native CVS to get examined on July 1. As of July 7, she was nonetheless awaiting the end result.

What is most irritating about her scenario is that her husband is a paramedic, and his employer received’t let him work as a result of he might have been uncovered to the virus. He was examined July 6 and remains to be awaiting information.

“This is completely absurd,” Altiraifi stated. She additionally worries that her husband might have unknowingly handed on the virus on certainly one of his ambulance calls to nursing houses and different care services earlier than he started isolating at residence. He has not proven any signs.

Altiraifi, who nonetheless has signs together with fatigue, stated she was initially advised she would have ends in two to 4 days, however she was suspicious as a result of after utilizing a nasal swab to offer herself the take a look at, the field to place it in was so full it was exhausting to shut.

Charlie Rice-Minoso, a spokesperson for CVS Health, stated sufferers are ready 5 to seven days on common for take a look at outcomes. “As demand for tests has increased, we’ve seen test result turnaround times vary due to temporary processing capacity limitations with our lab partners, which they are working to address,” he stated.

In South Florida, the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, which has examined tens of 1000’s of sufferers since March, stated findings are taking seven to 9 days, a number of days longer than within the spring.

CityMD, a big pressing care chain within the New York City space, stated it now tells sufferers they may doubtless wait a minimum of seven days for outcomes due to delays at Quest Diagnostics.

Quest Diagnostics, one of many largest lab corporations within the United States, stated common turnaround time has elevated from three to 5 days to 4 to 6 days prior to now two weeks. The firm has carried out practically 7 million COVID assessments this 12 months.

“Quest is doing everything it can to add testing capacity to reduce turnaround times for patients and providers amid this crisis and the unprecedented demands it places on lab providers,” stated spokesperson Kimberly Gorode.

At Treasure Coast Community Health in Vero Beach, Florida, officers are advising sufferers of a 10- to 12-day look forward to outcomes.

CEO Vicki Soule stated Treasure Coast is deluged with calls every single day from sufferers eager to know the place their take a look at outcomes are.

“The anxiety on the calls is way up,” she stated.

Julie Hall, 48, of Chantilly, Virginia, received examined June 27 at an pressing care heart after studying that her husband had examined optimistic for COVID-19 as he ready for hip substitute surgical procedure. She was dismayed to have to attend till July three to get a solution.

“I was thrilled to be negative, but by that point it likely did not matter,” she stated, noting that neither she nor her husband, Chris, confirmed any signs.

“It was awful and terrible because of the unknowns and not knowing if you exposed someone else,” she stated of being quarantined at residence awaiting outcomes. “Whenever you would sneeze, someone would say ‘COVID’ even though you feel completely fine.”

Senior correspondent Anna Maria Barry-Jester in California contributed to this text.

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