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Major commercial laboratories in the United States are reporting delays in returning Covid-19 test results as the pandemic rages on and case numbers surge in parts of the country.

While the number of tests conducted across the US increases, experts say long turnaround times can make it difficult to isolate confirmed cases and quickly quarantine their close contacts.

Quest Diagnostics, a commercial laboratory, said this week that testing demand has reached “unprecedented levels,” leading to delays. LabCorp, another laboratory, is reporting delays too. 

While Quest can provide results in a day for priority patients – including sick health care workers and people in the hospital – the company said its average turnaround time is three to five days for most other patients.

“Demand for COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing reaches unprecedented levels, extending turnaround times,” a Quest statement read.

“In our media statement posted June 25, we communicated that we are experiencing surging demand for our COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing services. We also communicated that this demand is likely to extend average turnaround times for reporting test results near term,” the company said. “Since that statement, we have continued to experience surging demand for these services, with recent daily orders outpacing capacity.”

That is the most current information available from Quest, according to company spokesperson Kimberly Gorode.

LabCorp is now taking one to two days longer to report results, the company told CNN in a statement Saturday. The company’s current turnaround time is two to four days on average.

“In recent weeks, we have seen a steady increase in demand for molecular testing and we are doing everything we can to continue delivering results in a timely manner while continually increasing testing capacity,” LabCorp said.



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