MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This summer’s spike in COVID-19 cases across the country has led to delays in getting test results back.
So, what does that look like here in Minnesota? Good Question.
In Florida, California, Texas and Arizona, there have been reports of hours-long wait times for a COVID-19 test. Some results are delayed as long as a week.
National laboratory Quest Labs said that while it can return test results for high-priority patients in one day, its turnaround time for other populations is seven days.
National laboratory LabCorp said its average wait time on results is four to six days, up from one to two days due to “significant increases in testing demand and constraints in the availability of supplies and equipment.”
In Minnesota, some clinics and hospitals use the national laboratories, but much of the testing is done locally. For example, the University of Minnesota and Hennepin Healthcare both test internally. They said Tuesday that turnaround time for results have not been delayed.
Allina and HealthPartners, who have experienced slightly longer wait times, use both tests within their hospital system and external labs. HealthPartners said it was getting results back to patients in three to four days, up from one to two days. Allina said their turnaround time is up a half day to 2.5 days.
“We’re lucky in Minnesota that we’re not surging but we are still impacted by all those patients down there,” said Heather Dawson, Allina Health Vice President of Laboratory Services.
On Monday, MDH Health Commissioner Jan Malcom said the state was hearing from its health system testing partners there was less confidence in the supply chain, especially for reagents and pipets.
Mayo Clinic also reported shortages and delays due to limited supplies.
“Right now, the testing reagents are a major limiting factor as we receive limited weekly allocations for all of our molecular/serology COVID-19 reagents as manufacturers furiously work to ramp up production to meet the worldwide demands,” said Mayo Clinic Laboratories Market Channel Manager Suzanne Ferguson.
None of the hospital systems reported any delays with testing high-priority patients, like those having surgery or health care workers.
May Hang, a nurse practitioner at Northpoint Health & Wellness Center recommends people be overly cautious as they wait for COVID-19 results, even if it takes longer than they’d hoped. She said people should isolate in their homes from family members if they have a known exposure. If they’re not sure they’ve been exposed but show symptoms, it’s still important to isolate.
“My biggest concern is that we are not getting to some of the areas that don’t have testing sites,” Hang said. “I would say don’t be so concerned about the backlog, let’s get the test so we know what we’re looking at.”