Test surge overwhelms Alabama’s ability to give quick COVID-19 results

Test surge overwhelms Alabama’s ability to give quick COVID-19 results
The Alabama Department of Public Health says its ability to turnaround test results in days is being overwhelmed. It can now take a week to get a result. (Source: WBRC)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Public Health warned Friday that a surge of COVID-19 tests has “overwhelmed” its ability to give results in two or three days. Currently, state and commercial labs are averaging about seven days to get test results out to those affected.

The two or three day time frame is critical for those waiting on results so they can quickly make quarantine and care decisions, ADPH said.

ADPH said a number of factors are responsible for increasing the “turnaround time,” or the period from when the specimen reaches the lab to when results are reported. Those issues include supply chain problems, increased testing nationwide, “and, in some cases, increased numbers of unnecessary tests.”

“The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) recognizes that this is too long and asks for consumers and physicians and other providers to help in making sure that those who are most vulnerable become the focus for testing,” the health department urged.

That means priority testing should be for the elderly, those in congregate living settings, healthcare workers, those with COVID-19 symptoms and those with underlying medical conditions that put them most at risk.

ADPH is also urging employers to stop requiring multiple retests of an employee before allowing them to return to work, adding such policies are not recommended by the CDC or ADPH.

Those who have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days, ADPH said, adding that those with a negative tests should continue quarantine if they are in close contact to a person with a positive case or who continues to have symptoms without another diagnosis.

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