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LabCorp to start limiting coronavirus testing supplies to catch up on backlog, urgent care network says

Decision could cause less availability for tests
Posted at 6:58 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 23:46:00-04

STUART, Fla. — Laboratories across Florida and the U.S. are reporting longer turnaround times for COVID-19 test results as the demand continues to increase.

WPTV viewers said they are waiting up to two weeks or longer to get their test results back.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus

Treasure Coast Medical Associates Inc. runs Stuart Urgent Care Clinic, Okeechobee Urgent Care Clinic and Highlands Urgent Care Clinic.

The company said one of the primary labs they use for processing test results is now going to limit the number of nasal swabs it provides to the clinics as a way to manage the influx of tests.

"LabCorp notified us two weeks ago that they are going to send us a limited amount of supplies because they are so backdated with the specimens that they have, that they can no longer keep up with the samples that are being sent in," said TCMAi VP of Clinical Operations, Aurora Rubio.

LabCorp would not directly confirm whether they are limiting the distribution of testing supplies, such as nasal swabs, to various medical providers, but provided WPTV with the following statement:

LabCorp has performed approximately 7 million molecular tests since first making our COVID-19 test available in March, and we are now able to process more than 130,000 tests per day with plans to increase that to 150,000 tests per day this month. Until recently, we have been able to deliver test results back to patients on average between 1-2 days from the date of specimen pickup. But with significant increases in testing demand and constraints in the availability of supplies and equipment, the average time to deliver results may now be 4-6 days from specimen pickup. For hospitalized patients, the average time for results is faster.

As additional equipment and supplies become available, we expect to be able to expand capacity and improve the time to return results. LabCorp continues to be committed to doing everything we can to respond to the health crisis.

"So, they're just going to send only a very limited amount of supplies, which is then going to put people even more into a frantic because they're going to call around and not be able to get a test," Rubio said.

Rubio also said LabCorp is not alone.

"That's actually been communicated from the majority of the labs that we work with. They're so inundated with supplies they can't keep up with it," Rubio said.

Treasure Coast Medical Associates, Inc. said they are planning to offer rapid-tests in the next month, which they hope will help lessen the burden on labs, giving patients results in about 15 minutes.

Amanda Willis is among the many still waiting for a test result.

"It has been totally crazy, to be honest with you," Willis said. "My oldest daughter was exposed on the 26 of June."

The next day, Willis and her two children went to a drive-thru testing site in Stuart.

"It's now almost three weeks later and still haven't heard anything," Willis said. "I ended up having to miss a whole two weeks of work."

If she gets her test results now, she feels it would be outdated. She has already completed a 14-day quarantine.

"That's the scariest thing about it. Were we positive or were we not?" Willis said.