Why COVID-19 Testing Results are Taking so Long

March 31, 2020
Why are COVID-19 test results taking so long?


BayCare shares the frustrations of patients who have visited our drive-thru COVID-19 test collection sites and whose results have not yet come back after more than week’s wait.

Please know we are in daily contact with the commercial laboratories where the test specimens have been sent and receipt has been confirmed. The laboratories are best equipped to address specifically what their processing times are, but each day, we understand a little bit more about these laboratories’ operations and the incredible demand there is for their services at just a few locations around the country.

BayCare opened its drive-thru collection sites on March 18, roughly two weeks after commercial laboratories Labcorp and Quest announced they were capable of running COVID-19 tests. Prior to that announcement, there was no broad access to COVID-19 testing in the United States. Most of it was being handled by government laboratories, such as the Florida Department of Health, which had very limited capacity and made the test available only to the most symptomatic patients.

With the increase in capacity from the commercial laboratories, demand nationwide skyrocketed, including from our test collection sites. It was in that environment that specimens from the first days of BayCare’s drive-thru COVID-19 test collection sites arrived in the laboratories.

The result has been that specimens sent from our first drive-thru collection days -- March 18, 19, 20 and 21 – are taking the longest time to be processed. As the laboratories have increased capacity, they have not been consistent in addressing backlogs. Some of our patients who came to BayCare’s drive-thru collection sites after March 21 have received results even as those tested earlier have not.

BayCare is in constant contact with the laboratories and we have received assurances that they are working through the backlog. We will continue to push for resolution and will keep you informed. 

As soon as patients’ results are received, BayCare is calling patients to inform them. Unfortunately, occasionally test results are inconclusive. As BayCare receives those notifications, it is also alerting those patients.

For those awaiting test results who are still experiencing symptoms, we encourage you to remain in touch with your provider and to self-isolate.

BayCare will continue to advocate to get results as soon as possible for all its patients.


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