SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — There are growing concerns about access to coronavirus testing in the Mid-South.
FOX13 has been reporting on long wait times at testing sites around the regions. Some people said they’ve even experienced a month-long delay waiting to find out if they have coronavirus.
The public has been told to quarantine until they get test results back. But when you’re talking about a month, not everybody can do that. Many people rely on their paycheck and can’t miss work, or they won’t get paid. Some say there’s not much motivation to wait for those results, especially if they’re asymptomatic. Many people don’t have the luxury of working from home or sitting on the sidelines for a month at a time.
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With a delay in labs reporting COVID-19 test results across the country, including here in the Mid-South, there’s a fear that some people may expose coworkers or other people they come in contact with as they sometimes wait weeks for their results.
“Yes, it is problematic,” said Shelby County Health Director Alisa Haushalter. “The CDC recommendation is that if you’ve been tested you should socially isolate until those test results come back.”
Haushalter said they’ve been seeing more and more issues when it comes to getting test results.
“There are some challenges with supply chain currently that are impacting the labs, and the sheer volume of testing is impacting the labs,” Haushalter said.
Thursday, Church Health sent a notice canceling their COVID-19 testing Friday in Frayser.
In part, it said “unfortunately, this is due to a community-wide backlog of tests and a significant delay in receiving test results. We understand that timely testing results are key to patient care and vital to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and therefore cannot in good conscience conduct a testing event that will fail to allow patients to make informed decisions.”
For now, Haushalter says tests will need to be prioritized to those who are symptomatic, and particularly, those who are in the hospital.
“We’re straining the public health system,” she said. “We’re straining the hospital system. We know our testing system is strained, as well, and our numbers are going up.”
Currently, there’s no simple solution, but the health department said they’d be looking into pool or batch testing where they can do more than one test at a time.
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