Health officials say delays in COVID-19 test results not a common problem

According to PHMDC, more than 90 percent of people receive their test results in 24-48 hours.
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 11:04 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Wisconsin, some people are seeing delays in getting their COVID-19 test results. For some, it takes up to several days.

According to the Wisconsin DHS, this is a recent problem just at the state level. The system the agency uses to report results had problems at the state level, causing some people to get their results later than normal. However, most community sites and health facilities are still getting patients’ results within 24 hours.

At SSM Health, results often take less than 12 hours to be processed, according to Vice President of Laboratory Services Jeff Shadick. Shadick said it helps that SSM processes tests in their own labs.

“If you’re relying on sending it out to a third party large reference laboratory, most of them are still turning results around pretty quickly, but you are reliant on them and typically, just the travel builds in an extra day or two,” he explained.

People getting tested at other sites may have seen delays because of the glitch in the DHS reporting system, but Shadick said it is not a common problem.

“Most tests are getting turned around in less than 72 hours,” he said.

According to Public Health Madison Dane County, more than 80 percent of people are getting test results in less than 24 hours, while just 2 percent are waiting more than three days.

Shadick said SSM has seen more people trying to get tested in recent weeks.

“We are definitely seeing more patients asymptomatic to the disease, that may be as a result of a close contact with a family member.” he said.

If someone is showing symptoms and they know they have been exposed to someone with the virus, Shadick recommends getting tested as soon as possible and isolating or quarantining. He said SSM facilities and urgent care clinics can offer testing for those patients.

However, if someone is not symptomatic, SSM is asking them to make use of public testing sites instead of coming to the hospital.

“Our hospitals are being, [they have] become very busy, not just with COVID but just general medical conditions. and wait times in our emergency departments for asymptomatic testing is becoming problematic,” Shadick explained.

People can find community sites near them on the DHS website. Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens also offer COVID-19 testing.

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