Waits increasing for coronavirus test results as reagent gets harder to find
Posted June 29, 2020 6:58 p.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2020 8:16 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Increased demand has boosted turnaround times for coronavirus tests in North Carolina.
I know this because, when I scheduled a test Monday with my doctor's office, I was told it's been taking about five days for them to get results from LabCorp, which runs the bulk of tests in North Carolina. CVS told another WRAL News staffer that their drive-thru testing turnaround is three to four days.
LabCorp wouldn't provide a current average turnaround time Monday, with a spokeswoman saying via email that "we have been delivering test results on average between 1-2 days."
But she acknowledged "a steady increase in demand for molecular testing" and said in a follow-up email that this "could impact our average 1-2 day delivery timing."
The state Department of Health and Human Services said Monday evening that two factors are boosting wait times for results: Increased testing volume and the fact that labs are "once again having difficulty obtaining a critical chemical (reagent) needed to process tests."
A reagent shortage in March, as North Carolina and other states ramped up their testing programs, made it impossible to meet demand then, state officials said at the time.
LabCorp spokeswoman Kelly Smith Aceituno said Monday that the company expects its "capacity for molecular tests to increase from 130,000 to 150,000 tests per day by mid-July."
Meanwhile, state health officials say anyone tested because they have symptoms or because they were exposed to someone with COVID-19 should stay home and avoid others in their household while they await results.
Those who don't have a known exposure, such as people tested in a workplace screening program, "do not need to stay home while waiting for results unless told to do so by their employer or by public health," DHHS spokeswoman Chris Mackey said in an email.
As for me, I'm symptom free. I'm getting tested solely because I've been in and out of the General Assembly for the last month, and lawmakers wrapped up their work early Friday morning.
DHHS guidelines say testing should be considered for people who have attended large gatherings.