GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - COVID-19 testing has certainly seen an increase across the nation. But just how fast are patients getting their test results? According to CVS FAQs, they will have tested 2 million patients by the end of July, starting back in mid March.
 
One woman reached out to FOX Carolina because she's been waiting 20 days for results after she was told they'd be back in seven days.
Lauren Krebs is currently expecting her first child. So, she's considered high risk as it relates to the coronavirus. With every passing day, the anxiousness grows for the seven month pregnant mother-to-be.
 
“It’s been really hard, especially being pregnant. It’s like, I’m more at risk,” Krebs said.
 
She has not had any symptoms but wanted to get tested out of an abundance of caution.
 
“My husband works in construction and he’s around a lot of people that don’t social distance, they aren’t washing their hands, sanitizing — any of that. I wanted to make sure that my baby and I were okay,” she said.

Kreb joins a long list of people in the United States waiting for CVS for provide the test results. On the retailer's website, it says results in six to ten days.
FOX Carolina News reached out to CVS and they provided this statement: 
 
CVS response
 
Patient samples collected at CVS Health’s COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites are sent offsite to independent, third-party labs who are responsible for processing and delivering the results, which we then communicate to patients.

The increase in cases of COVID-19 in certain areas of the country is causing extremely high demand for tests across the board. This has caused backlogs for our lab partners and is delaying their processing of patient samples. Currently, due to these factors, it may take 6-10 days for people to receive their results and, in some instances, our lab partners may take even longer to return results.  Our lab partners are working hard to address this issue.

We are actively engaged in discussions with potential new lab partners that would expand our network of third-party labs in order to support our commitment to providing access to testing during this time of peak demand and beyond. We work with third party independent labs.

 

A representative from CVS would not provide any further details on who their lab partners are so we called their coronavirus hotline and found out that Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp are those third party labs.

We were sent the following statements both companies after questioning why tests results were taking so long to process.
 
Quest Diagnostics response
Demand for COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing continues to stress testing capacity and drive lengthy turnaround times

 During the past week we surpassed 9.2 million COVID-19 molecular diagnostic test results delivered to date; received the FDA’s first emergency use authorization for the use of pooled specimens with a commercial molecular diagnostic test; and saw capacity slightly exceed demand for the first time since early June.

 -Turnaround Times

 Demand for our molecular diagnostic testing remains high as the virus has spread across much of the United States, particularly the South, Southwest and West. Persistent high demand has strained our testing capacity and extended delays for test results (turnaround time*). As a result, our average turnaround time for reporting test results is now over two days for our priority 1 patients** and 7 days for all other patients.

 We expect that as our capacity continues to grow, we will be able to return to average turnaround times in the range of 1 day for priority 1 patients and 3 days for most other patients. We have steadily added capacity since we began to provide services in early March, but it will take time to add more.

 -Testing Capacity

We currently have the capacity to perform as many as 135,000 molecular diagnostic tests a day and are working to increase that to 150,000 tests a day by next week.

We continue to pursue a range of opportunities to increase our capacity beyond 150,000 tests a day. These include implementing specimen pooling at our laboratories in Chantilly, VA, and Marlborough, Mass. Specimen pooling will allow us to optimize capacity, particularly in populations with low rates of COVID-19 disease. Quest Diagnostics was the first commercial lab to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA for specimen pooling for COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing, on July 18.

In addition, we are working with our providers to prioritize patients as a way to modulate incoming specimens for COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing. As a result, the rate of incoming specimens into our laboratories has held steady over approximately the past 2 weeks.

-Supplies

The laboratory industry's ability to add testing capacity is limited by a range of issues. The most significant hurdle we face now is limits to complex testing platforms and chemical reagents required to perform testing. We appreciate the efforts of our suppliers, who are working to provide these goods as quickly as they can to us and other lab providers amid rising global demand.

-A Reminder on Personal Responsibility

The pandemic continues to surge across much of the United States. The only way that we as a country can flatten the curve is if each of us takes personal responsibility – by washing hands often, avoiding people who are sick, staying six feet away from others and wearing a mask in public. The CDC provides helpful information on steps individuals can take on its website.

-Thanks to Our Dedicated Quest Colleagues

We want to recognize and thank our Quest Diagnostics colleagues for everything they have been doing to expand COVID-19 testing to patients across the United States. Their contributions are essential to the nation’s effort to fight COVID-19.

*Turnaround time for molecular diagnostic and antibody testing includes the time to transport a specimen to a Quest Diagnostics laboratory after collecting it at a patient service center or provider site to reporting results. Turnaround time can fluctuate with demand and vary by region.

**Priority 1 patients include hospital patients, pre-operative patients in acute care settings and symptomatic healthcare workers. We rely on the healthcare provider to indicate the level of priority of each patient specimen referred to us for testing.

LabCorp response

LabCorp has performed approximately 8.5 million molecular tests since first making our COVID-19 test available in March, and we are now able to process 180,000 tests per day with plans to increase capacity further. With this additional capacity, we have reduced the average time to deliver results to 2-3 days from specimen pickup. For hospitalized patients, the average time for results is faster.

 We continue to be focused on reducing the time it takes for a patient to receive their result, and as additional equipment and supplies become available, we expect the average time to improve. LabCorp continues to be committed to doing everything we can to respond to the health crisis.

 

The Frustration for some is understandable, essentially sitting in the dark when it comes to their heath status.
Health experts say for those waiting in isolation should continue to do so for the recommended ten to 14 days. 
“We’ve been looking at anywhere from Four to six days for our test results to come back but it’s just important to remain quarantined and to self isolate,” Dr. Christian Montagano with EmergencyMD. He goes on to say labs are flooded with test because of the increase in testing
For Krebs, she remains vigilant in checking on the results -- she checked My Chart and called CVS plenty of times. At last check they told her, her name would be added to a list of backlogged patients.
“I guess it was just more of a I’ll call you when we know something,” Krebs said.
But that doesn't ease the stress for this soon-to-be mother.
We also reached out to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to see what can be done, if anything, to help this situation. We received the following response:
 
DHEC's Public Health Laboratory is well-stocked, and through this pandemic the Public Health Lab (PHL) has averaged about 24-48 hours from when a specimen is received at the lab to when it is tested and the results are relayed back to the medical provider who submitted the sample. Our Public Health Lab employees have been working extended hours, seven days a week during the pandemic, and the PHL currently has performed 24% of all diagnostic testing in the state.
 
DHEC's Public Health Laboratory orders testing supplies from the CDC based on the amount of testing the lab performed the previous week, plus adding 30%, which is recommended by the CDC. This allows the state's Public Health Laboratory to establish a "stockpile" in case supplies were to run short later in the summer.
 
It's our understanding that several private labs, which are regulated at the federal level and not the state level, have had an increase in test result turnaround times. DHEC is working to provide recommendations to our partner providers who use private labs in an effort to help shorten result wait times.
 

Copyright 2020 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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