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Demand for rapid coronavirus testing grows after surge in Florida cases

Patients say results can take days for normal tests
wptv-covid-19-testing.jpg
Posted at 4:11 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 18:33:19-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — As COIVD-19 cases keep rising in Florida, there is an increase in demand for testing and getting results faster.

There is now a call for more rapid testing that will allow people to find out if they have the coronavirus quickly.

WPTV spoke with Rich Marini as he waited in line Tuesday for a COVID-19 test at a state-run testing site located in West Boca Raton.

"They're saying seven to 10 days, and it's not good, not optimum," said Marini.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus

Marini said he knew he would have to wait a lot longer to get his result after getting tested at the site.

"Between the time I get my test, and the time I get my results, I could have been infected," said Marini.

Dr. Larry Bush
Dr. Larry Bush of the Palm Beach Medical Society says rapid testing can provide results in 24 hours or less.

The long wait times are the result of overwhelming demand being put on testing sites.

However, some places, such as Vitality Sciences in Palm Beach Gardens, advertise rapid COVID-19 swab test results in 24 hours.

Rapid testing can provide results in 24 hours or less. According to medical experts, it depends on testing equipment typically available in hospitals and some private medical offices.

"The commercial labs, the problem isn't that they can't do it rapidly. It's the volume," said Dr. Larry Bush, an infectious disease specialist with the Palm Beach Medical Society.

Bush said fast testing is possible, but it takes special equipment, and it can cost a few hundred dollars for each test.

“You're not going to see many doctors' offices, and maybe some urgent cares, that have a lot more volume for rapid testing like that. Some hospitals are using that. Some have other machines that take an hour," Bush said.

This leaves many people, like those in waiting in line at testing facilities, hoping for the best.

“It seems with people looking to get back into the workforce it makes sense to have a faster result,” said Jennifer Goldman, who was waiting on a line at the free testing site in West Boca Raton. "I've had family and friends wait about eight days, and even after that we had to call to get the results, so I’m expecting about a week."

A spokesperson for Quest Diagnostics, one the largest testing labs in the country, said in emailed statement that demand for results is high.

"Demand for COVID-19 molecular testing continues to outpace Quest’s capacity and is highest in the South, Southwest and West regions of the country," the statement read.

The company says rapid testing for priority one patients in hospitals can now take up to two days compared to one day a week ago, largely due to rising demand.

“The most significant gating factor we currently face is limits to the testing platforms, the complex machines that perform the technical analysis, as well as reagents, or chemicals, required to perform testing,” the statement said.