Delays in COVID-19 testing results become 'dangerous' for some

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As testing continues and increases, wait times for results that have been exceeding a week in some cases can be a source of frustration and anxiety for many people.

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Testing companies like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp said they cannot keep up with the rate of infection as more people get tested.

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An ABC13 colleague recently reported a 16-day wait after being tested at a Harris County site. Quest Diagnostics handled his test, saying their average turn-around time for non-priority patients is seven days or more.

They also said that despite their rapid increase in capacity, the soaring demand for COVID-19 molecular diagnostic tests across the United States is slowing the time in which they can provide test results.

ABC13 received a similar response from LabCorp.

Dr. Nasruddin Rupani, the chairman of IBN Sina Foundation, which serves low-income families across five Houston locations, said the delayed wait times are dangerous, especially for low-income communities and families who live paycheck to paycheck.

"Waiting for results for a week to ten days is basically unaffordable," said Rupani.

His foundation has been offering the Abbott ID Now rapid test to patients for months out of their Wilcrest Community Center clinic.

"Within ten minutes after delivery to the attendant, you will have the result in ten minutes," he said.

Despite that quick result, Dr. David Persse with Houston Public Health said anyone exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days, even if you have a negative test result yourself.

Persse addressed the concern on Tuesday for the long lag time between getting a COVID-19 test and getting those results.

Both Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp said they are working to increase their testing capacity to 150,000 tests a day by the end of July.

"We have to get ahead of this virus if we want to slow it down," said Persse.

He said the delay in getting results means a delay in that person notifying their close contacts if they turn out to be positive, and the trickle-down effect has big implications.

In 30 days, one person will be responsible for the infection of 406 others.

That is the reason behind his warning to quarantine for 14 days if you come into contact with a COVID positive person.

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