COVID testing labs seeing delays again

The number of people being tested for the coronavirus is rising and that's leading to longer wait times for test results.

More people are being tested for COVID-19 in Michigan. That’s good news, but it’s leading to long wait times as the labs that run the tests struggle to keep up with demand.

Testing has been expanded to people who aren’t showing symptoms of the virus. That’s leading not only to longer wait times, but also to limited testing supplies.

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“It’s like going to a restaurant and they run a special. Then all of a sudden everybody wants the special, but you don’t have enough to go around,” said James Richard, the medical director at Sparrow Laboratories, in an interview with Bridge Magazine. “Once you get at seven days (turnaround time), why do you even do the testing?”

The state doesn’t track testing turnaround times. But a survey of community health centers in Michigan conducted by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration showed that more than half were waiting more than five days for test results.

The state has a network of more than 70 labs it relies on to process tests. They were receiving about 19,000 tests per day at the beginning of the month. By last week they were receiving about 27,000.

Of course, the rise in testing is necessary. Health researchers say Michigan needs to do more testing to adequately suppress it until a vaccine is found.

That doesn’t make it any easier for a state that doesn’t have enough testing capacity.

You can read the full story here.

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