Growing concerns about COVID-19 testing delays nationwide

There are growing concerns about surging demand for COVID-19 tests leading to delays in people receiving results nationwide and in the Washington, D.C. region. 

D.C. resident Brian Resnick says he went to a CVS Pharmacy drive-thru to be tested as a precaution ahead of traveling for the July 4th holiday. He was told to expect results in two to four days as was advertised on the pharmacy website. 

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The site has since been adjusted to say it may take five to seven days to receive results and Resnick is still waiting. 

“You know, they said two to four days and it’s nine days later. You have to see your family eventually and we did the best we could but it would have been nice to have that piece of mind,” said Resnick. 

CVS sent the following statement to FOX 5 in response to our inquiry about delayed results:

“We are committed to expanding COVID-19 testing capabilities across the country, and providing patients with results in a timely fashion so they can take the appropriate next steps. In some cases, patients who have been tested at our CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations may experience a delay in receiving their test results, due to high demand and temporary processing capacity limitations at our third-party partner labs.”

Both Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp. say they’re facing backlogs and delays in turnaround time due to outbreaks in the Southern and Western parts of the United States. 

In an update today Quest Diagnostics writes:

“Since June 29, demand has continued to rise nationwide, particularly in the South, Southwest and West regions of the country, outpacing our capacity. As a result, the average turnaround time for reporting test results is now 1 day for priority 1 patients and 4-6 days for all other populations.

We are doing everything we can to bring more COVID-19 testing to patients in the United States at this critical time. This week, we intend to ramp up our capacity to reach 120,000 molecular diagnostic tests a day, compared to 115,000 last week. Over the month of July, we will continue to ramp up our capacity to reach 150,000 molecular diagnostic tests a day.”

LabCorp sent FOX 5 the following statement:

“Rapidly delivering test results to ordering healthcare providers, pharmacy drive-through patients, at-home test kit patient customers, nursing homes, employers and others has been a priority for LabCorp and we have been delivering test results on average between 1-2 days from the date of specimen pick up. Test results are most typically reported electronically, which generally allows for faster delivery. In recent weeks, we have seen a steady increase in demand for molecular testing and we are doing everything we can to continue delivering results in a timely manner while continually increasing testing capacity. With the recent increase in demand, results on average may take 1-2 days longer. We expect our capacity for molecular tests to increase from 130,000 to 150,000 tests per day by mid-July.”

The Maryland Governor’s office tells FOX 5 they are watching this very closely. 

Dr. Clifford Mitchell with the Maryland Department of Health says the state has been working to provide whatever additional lab resources it can for high-risk locations like nursing homes.