BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - More people are getting tested for COVID-19, but it’s taking longer for them to get their results So, how long should it take to get those results back? It seems to depend on where you go to get tested.
On Wednesday, health care workers at Legion Field quoted turnaround times of three to five days. Other testing sites have quoted a week or more. But doctors with Alabama Regional Medical Services said it shouldn’t take more than 48 hours, and Jefferson County’s top doc agrees.
Sandra Cooper and her husband wanted to be proactive. So, when they heard Alabama Regional Medical Services was hosting a free testing event Wednesday, they decided to take advantage.
“He’s an essential worker and he’s going in and out and we’ve pretty much been quarantined; we only go out for essentials, but this morning we thought, ‘Well, we need to come and just be a part of the community and make sure we’re not asymptomatic and spreading it,’” Cooper explained.
Cooper described the test as simple and painless, and encouraged others to get one, praising the quick result turnaround.
“They said in 48 hours, 24 to 48 hours, and that’s really good. That turnaround is absolutely what we all need to kind of get this thing under control,” Cooper said.
But as more people take her advice and get tested, a new problem emerges. Labs are now swamped, making those turnaround times much longer, and people less patient to wait at home for results.
“And when you get a test turnaround time, or the time to get tested and then a test result turnaround time that’s that long, you know, pushing a week or ten days, it becomes less and less useful for us in terms of our contact tracing and quarantining work that’s meant to get this all under control,” said Health Officer for the Jefferson County Department of Health, Dr. Mark Wilson.
“Because our system is under strain, and these numbers are at an all-time high, we need your help. We need everyone to do their part,” Dr. Wilson said.
Dr. Wilson explained that the positivity percentage is at 15% in Jefferson County, which is the highest rate in a week we’ve had so far.
He said that also means we’re missing a lot of cases, and that we need to be doing enough testing, and have a low enough incidence in the community, that it becomes less than 5% to give us a better chance at getting the virus under control.