Zurik: People tested at state coronavirus test sites wait more than two weeks for results

One couple tested in late June at a Northshore test site are still waiting on their results 16 days after being tested
Livingston and Ascension parishes increase COVID-19 testing amid spike in cases in Baton Rouge...
Livingston and Ascension parishes increase COVID-19 testing amid spike in cases in Baton Rouge area.(WAFB)
Updated: Jul. 9, 2020 at 8:48 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Lab supply shortages are causing people tested for the Coronavirus to wait for days if not weeks to learn if they have the virus.

The state has been partnering and supporting several testing sites across the state and surging tests in areas that have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases. In mid-to-late June testing sites were launched on the Northshore.

Before her two sons came home to visit, they all decided to get tested for the virus. Leslie Patterson and her husband decided to get tested at a site in Madisonville on June 23.

Have you recently experienced long wait times for COVID-19 test results or have another story for us to look into? E-mail us at FOX8Investigates@fox8live.com

“Everything was great,” Patterson said. “The [Louisiana] National Guard staff were very professional, there was no line. It was great.”

The paper we were given said we would be notified in three to five days. But sixteen days later, she has not heard the result of her test.

FOX 8 has found that her problem is not unique. Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health said the problem is nationwide.

“It’s a national problem right now,” Dr. Kanter said. “Hearing the same accounts across the country. It’s not ideal.”

Testing delays are starting to affect the entire country including Louisiana.

“The shortages the past couple of weeks are incredibly frustrating,” Kanter said.

He said Patterson’s test likely went to Quest Diagnostics for processing.

“We’ve heard from that company that their turnaround time for this and next week can be expected to be up to fourteen days,” Kanter said. “Which it almost defeats the point of getting tested if you don’t find out about your results [for] so long.”

Kanter said Quest is not the only company with the backlog of tests. He said increased testing in other states is adding up to a delayed system.

“All these tests are relying on similar supply chains and infrastructure and it’s really being strained right now.”

Officials said they expect the delay to incrementally improve as companies get adequate supplies and are able to turnaround tests in a faster timeframe. But for those who have already been tested it continues to be a waiting game to find out whether or not they were, or are still infected.

“We’re hearing that the state wants us to get tested and that’s what you were hearing when we were trying to move into this phase we are in now,” Patterson said.

“It is frustrating when you do what they ask you to do and then there’s no results.”

As of July 9, Patterson had not received her results -- sixteen days after being tested. She decided to get tested at her doctor’s office and is awaiting those results.

Quest Diagnostics did not respond with a comment on this story.

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