Gov. Wolf says other states with coronavirus surges are causing Pa. test result delays

Long lags in getting covid-19 test results to patients have Pennsylvania health officials concerned even as the state’s capacity to perform tests has grown.

The delays — some of up to 14 days or more — come in part from what’s happening in other states, Gov. Tom Wolf said during a Thursday press conference.

“We have been experiencing delays in getting Pennsylvanians their test results due to national labs becoming overwhelmed by the need for testing in states that are experience a major outbreak,” he said.

Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp are the two main labs processing covid-19 tests at a national level, and nationwide test sites like CVS, Rite Aid and Walmart process tests they’ve administered through Quest and LabCorp.

Wolf said that because Pennsylvania’s positivity rate and case counts have been relatively stable, the state isn’t a top priority for the national labs, which he said have been directed by the federal government to prioritize tests from states facing outbreaks, like Florida and Texas.

“Issues like this really show that no state is an island when it comes to a viral pandemic,” he said.

Gov. Wolf said because Pennsylvania’s case counts have been relatively stable, the state isn’t a top priority for the national labs.

LabCorp representatives declined an interview but provided a statement regarding the nationwide testing demand.

“Our average time to deliver results is 2-3 days from specimen pickup. At this time based on Department of Health and Human Services guidance, we are prioritizing testing for residents and staff from nursing homes in ‘hot spot’ states in addition to hospitalized patients. All other testing for patients are performed in the order in which they are received.”

A spokeswoman noted that LabCorp has done around 9 million tests since March and can process about 180,000 tests a day “with plans to increase capacity further.”

Representatives from Quest Diagnostics could not immediately be reached for comment.

Wolf’s comments came during an announcement that nine more Walmart locations statewide would offer drive-up testing.

“This issue is not just how many tests you have the capacity to do, but it’s how accessible those tests are — how easily people can get them,” Wolf said.

Jamie Reilly, Walmart’s regional director of health and wellness, said the Walmart test sites fill a void in areas that might not otherwise have access to testing. He said 90% of the country’s population lives within 10 miles of a Wamart.

Reilly also said the wait time for test results averages about seven days. Some results take longer.

“That’s too long — it’s clearly too long,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

Levine said she and others in the administration have reached out to Quest, LabCorp and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to try to alleviate the backlogs.

“It’s really up to the federal government and HHS to work with Quest and LabCorp to increase their capacity,” she said. “What we’ve been told by HHS is they’re working with (the labs) to decrease that wait time.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, or via Twitter .

Coronavirus | News | Pennsylvania

Published at Thu, 06 Aug 2020 17:31:26 +0000

Source: Gov. Wolf says other states with coronavirus surges are causing Pa. test result delays.

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