‘This Is Not Working': Delays in COVID Test Results Continue

COVID-19 testing sites in Massachusetts are experiencing long lines and delays in results

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Long lines outside COVID-19 testing sites, like the Carewell Urgent Care in Needham, Massachusetts, are driven by demand.

"Many people are getting directed that they need to have some sort of a test to return to work," said Sean Ginter, the president and CEO of Carewell. "Many if they are going to be traveling or returning from some travel, if they want to see family members, if their kids are going to be joining a camp or returning to school."

And that is overwhelming the system. People are looking for the quick turnaround coronavirus test with results within minutes. The PCR test takes three to six days, perhaps longer, to come back from the lab.

"It's a lot of work. It's a lot of test samples being sent," Ginter explained. "They've got to be processed on limited machines with limited staffing. And all of those results have to be reported back out."

This points to a bigger problem. Without widespread testing and isolation of infected people, COVID-19 will continue to spread.

"This is not working, and it's not going to work unless the numbers of cases are low enough that it's pretty easy for anybody who wants or needs to get a test," said Dr. Barry Bloom, a Harvard Medical School professor.

Or testing becomes much simpler.

"Wouldn't it be terrific if we could have, at the point of care, at a doctor's office, at a pharmacist, and ultimately a pregnancy-like test that you could do in the household?" Bloom asked.

That is in the works, but when it becomes a reality is anyone's guess.

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