Spike in demand for COVID-19 tests could cause delays in results

Updated: Jul. 15, 2020 at 11:32 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Health experts say an increased demand in COVID-19 tests could have people waiting longer to find out their results. It depends on the way organizations are conducting tests and to whom they send the samples for testing.

“There are supply chain issues for a lot of the hospitals that do their own testing in-house, so even though you have the availability of something that can take a test and turn it around in 24 hours, it may not be available just because you have run out of supplies,” said Dr. Robert Oliverio, chief medical officer with Roper St. Francis Healthcare. “That’s been happening more recently as we’ve seen this surge in cases.”

If a collection center is sending tests off to a commercial lab, Oliverio says depending on the lab, the results can come back as quickly as 24 to 36 hours, or it can take as long as 6 to 9 days.

A spokesperson for MUSC says depending on the kind of test that is ordered, they can usually schedule an appointment for a test within 48 hours through a virtual visit.

They also receive most results back within 72 hours or less.

Typically, the turnaround times will also vary depending on the volume of patients. This is something that’s not only happening locally, but around the country as well.

At Roper, Oliverio says they are working to expand what they can do in their facilities and increase their supply so those turnaround times can go down.

Doctors are also reminding people to quarantine as they wait for their test results.

“We are really cognizant of the fact that we want to get this back to you as soon as possible so you can get on with your life, but until you get the information back you really need to stay quarantined,” Oliverio said. ”That is very, very important.”

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