Watch CBS News

Wait Times Have Been Longer For COVID-19 Test Results Lately -- Why Is That Happening?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Over four months into the pandemic, CBS 2 is learning it's often taking longer to get COVID-19 test results than it was just weeks ago.

As CBS 2's Vince Gerasole reported Thursday, you can get a private test at places like the Midwest Express facility at Ashland Avenue and School street in Lakeview. They will tell you upfront that results for asymptomatic patients will take 14 days, which is as long as a quarantine.

Whether the testing labs are state or private, the reasons vary, from supply shortages at labs to a rush of patients testing after the recent holiday weekend.

"It's just nice to know where I am and where I stand in this pandemic," said Brenna Wall.

Wall was doing her best to be responsible as she took a COVID-19 test after attending social justice protests last month. She went to a state drive-up center.

"Within 48 hours, I had my results," she said. "I knew I was negative."

After a mostly isolated camping trip last week, she returned to the same center.

"I got tested Monday. I'm still waiting. They said three to four days, but I heard eight to ten, so I am still waiting,' Wall said.

Jeanne Stark of Marengo said she wanted a test because she woke up Monday with four of the eight COVID-19 symptoms. So she booked one with the closest pharmacy she could find.

"After a 50-minute drive and a 15-minute wait in line, I was told it would not be five to seven days, but 14 days," Stark said.

Dr. Mia Taormina chairs the infectious disease department at DuPage Medical Group. She said test turnaround times "are unfortunately all over the map."

Taormina said those delays aren't anecdotal, and reflect more social connections during the 4th of July holiday.

"All the labs commercial labs and state labs were getting inundated and where we were getting comfortable with two to three days turnaround, whether commercial lab or state lab, it got pushed out to four or five days," she said.

Midwest Express is telling patients that "because of lab supply issues," results for asymptomatic patients may be delayed up to 14 days.

Stark received a notice from her original testing site, CVS, stating, "As demand increases, this is having an impact on returning results.

She has since booked a test through her doctor.

"I've been quarantining since, but it's nerve-wracking, because every sniffle, you start to wonder," Stark said.

"If you have symptoms and you are expecting lab results in three days and it's been ten days and you are not sure what to do, you may need to contact your doctor about repeat testing," Taormina said.

Dr. Taormina said the state lag that was hovering at four or five days is moving back to two to three days.

The lag means that any and all health numbers the government can report are missing pieces of the puzzle too.

Here's a bit of good news – Stark was able to get her test results from her doctor's office late Thursday afternoon. She was negative.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.