Quest Diagnostics is warning of delays in getting COVID-19 test results due to soaring consumer demand. The average turnaround time is now seven days, compared with two to three days in early June, according to the company.
The longer turnaround times come as coronavirus outbreaks are spreading across the U.S., including populous states such as Texas and Florida, with the latter on Monday recording more than 12,000 new cases. Quest said it has doubled its capacity to test for the disease compared with eight weeks ago, but that the public clamor for screening is outstripping its ability to keep up.
Delays in Americans receiving test results could make it harder to contain the disease. That’s because without knowing whether they are infected, some people may not make an effort to minimize their contact with others or take other preventive measures. Quest said global supply constraints, such as securing reagents, is constraining its ability to expand testing.
The increase in testing demand is due “primarily to the rapid, continuing spread of COVID-19 infections across the nation but particularly in the South, Southwest and West regions of the country,” Quest said on Monday.
Demand is coming from people seeking walk-in and drive-through testing, as well as pre-operative patients and high-risk populations, such as those who work in health-care centers, Quest said. Tests for priority patients, who include pre-op patients and health-care workers, have a one-day turnaround, the company added.
Quest said it’s now capable of running 125,000 tests per day, double its capacity eight weeks ago, and expects to be able to handle 150,000 tests by the end of July.
The spread of COVID-19 cases is prompting some states to reverse their reopenings, with California on Monday ordering the closure of indoor businesses across the state, including restaurants, bars, wineries, movie theaters, zoos and museums.
Many people have a spotty record on following social distancing guidelines, with a new study from research firm GfK finding that one-third of Americans believe wearing a mask infringes on their personal freedoms. Only about 3 in 10 Americans said they always follow social distancing guidelines, the survey found.