Nationwide Surge in COVID Cases Causes Long Testing Delays in Tri-State

At CityMD, a popular chain of urgent care centers, results used to be available in one to two days — now patients must wait seven days

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A surge in COVID-19 testing nationwide is causing a backlog in test results, the ramifications of which are being felt in the tri-state. Jessica Perry knows first hand.

“I flew back and immediately quarantined in my basement for the full tiime, “ explained Perry, formerly of Roslyn Heights, Long Island. “I didn’t see my family and I wanted to get tested to be sure.”

Perry came home for a family emergency. She got tested in order to be able to see her father who was in the hospital. She was tested on June 23 and did not get the results that she was negative until nine days later.  

“My dad was really upset because I came home to see him and I haven’t seen him since 2019. It was really annoying to have to quarantine even longer than necessary," Perry said.

The coronavirus task force says the U.S. is averaging up to 700,000 tests a day. National labs are reporting a backlog. Quest Diagnostics says the average turnaround time for results is now 4-6 days. At CityMD, a popular chain of urgent care centers, results used to be available in one to two days. Now patients must wait seven days.

“If they told me before I would not do the test,” explained Shaikh Shakil, of Westbury. “Because 7 more days I should be cleared anyway and my quarantine will be over.”

But experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci say quick results are essential for contact tracing.

“if you’re going to do contact tracing and the test comes back in five to seven days,” said Fauci. “You may as well not do tracing because it’s already too late.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says national labs only perform 30 percent of New York’s testing overall.  

“About 70 percent are labs within the state so it shouldn’t have a dramatic effect," Cuomo said.

There are about 215 labs across New York state that are processing tests, choosing one of those labs could get you results in 2-3 days.

Northwell Health is one of those labs. They say they are currently processing 5,500 tests a day with no delays in results. But their chief medical officer says the delays are caused by supply chain issues, which could affect New York down the road.

“Those who make the swabs the solutions,” said David Battinelli. “All the components are in short supply across the country.”

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