Ochsner hopes to double COVID testing capacity, significantly decrease wait time for results

Updated: Jul. 22, 2020 at 9:17 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Health leaders say the testing data is important, and knowing how prevalent the virus is in a community is key.

Ochsner right now is testing between 2,500 and 3,200 people every day in Louisiana. In the New Orleans area, the Chief Medical Officer of Ochsner Dr. Robert Hart, says there’s about a 10 percent positivity rate.

The time it takes to get those results, though, have gone up now to 2 to 4 days. At one point, it was as quick as 24 hours.

Waiting several days to get results can become a serious problem because people who are positive for COVID-19 won’t know it and could be spreading the virus as they wait for their results to come in.

Ochsner is now purchasing new equipment with the hope of more than doubling its testing capacity and get the test results back within a 24 to 48-hour time frame.

“It’s more new machines from one of the company’s that’s doing the testing. It’s similar to the machines we have, but we were able to acquire more of the machines which are going to allow us to ramp up our capacity,” Robert Hart, M.D. said.

Dr. Hart says hospitalization numbers in the New Orleans area have certainly gone up more than a hundred percent over the past few weeks. But to put that in perspective, back in April, there were 582 people in the hospital with COVID-19 compared to 110 patients today in the New Orleans area.

He says the numbers show while there is an increase in COVID-19 in our community, it is not as bad as it was back in April. Still, Dr. Hart says the numbers are concerning and everyone should be taking precautions to stop the increase.

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