Should you return to work while waiting on COVID-19 results? Here's what we know

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston has become a hotspot for COVID-19 and an epicenter for the virus. A larger demand for tests has led to a log jam.

"Labs are running behind. Testing abilities are running behind trying to catch up with the number of cases that need to be tested right now," primary care physician with Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, Dr. Michelle Udayamurthy, said.

While labs are doing the best they can, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said we need to speed up the process.

"When it takes us five, six, seven, 10 days to get test results back, we can't call that case and interview them and do the contact tracing. By the time we've reached them, they've been out and about. So, those are the kinds of tools that we have to sharpen right now," she explained.

Nobody knows that better than ABC13 executive producer Keith Browning. His youngest daughter tested positive for COVID-19, so he and his wife were advised to get tested at a free Harris County site in Pasadena.

"We ended up waiting like three and a half hours to actually get the test. We were sitting in the car. The kids are watching Disney + on the phone. We have no idea how long it's going to take," Browning said.

That was on June 25. He was told he would get a call in three to five days, but two weeks later, nothing.

"It's frustrating for us because we want to know what it is," Browning said.

What now? Do you go to work while you wait for results? Udayamurthy said no. You should stay home and self-isolate, in case you are positive.

"Nobody wants to lose their job over this, but ultimately, I think the safety of the community and the safety of individuals comes before that," Dr. Udayamurthy said.

She also said with such a high volume right now, they're trying to prioritize symptomatic patients and get them tested first.

The best bet is to contact your primary care physician and let them walk you through what to do next. Thankfully, Browning feels fine and is able to work from home.

"We're not out, you know, without masks. We're at home. I just wonder if there are other people in the community who are doing that. They're out and about and spreading it."

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