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State looks for solutions amid COVID-19 testing delays and lab backups

Dr. Kris Box says state looking for additional labs
Testing for COVID19.JPG
Posted at 5:05 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 17:05:31-05

INDIANAPOLIS — WRTV Investigates has uncovered COVID-19 testing sites and labs that process swabs are experiencing delays and backups.

WRTV has heard from numerous people throughout central Indiana who said the state Optum sites will not allow you to book an appointment until several days, or even a week, out.

And the results from the state’s Optum sites are taking up to six days, Hoosiers tell WRTV.

Although Optum sites will test asymptomatic patients, some testing sites will not test you unless you have symptoms.

Access to quick and reliable testing is important because it helps identify COVID-19 positive patients, so that they can get treatment and isolate themselves to prevent further spread in the community.

WRTV asked Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box about the delays in getting appointments and test results, and Box said the labs are having a hard time keeping up with the 60,000 tests a day.

“Most assuredly, Indiana like every other state in the country is struggling to keep up with the vast number of tests we are doing,” Box said. “As you look at our daily testing numbers, it’s 55-60,000 tests a day which is a huge number of tests.”

Box said the state is looking at increasing the number of labs in Indiana.

“Yes, our turnaround times are running longer than we want,” Box said. “We are working on other avenues to try to bring that turnaround time down."

State health officials said while some health departments and pharmacies do not test asymptomatic individuals, the state’s Optum sites will test you even if you don’t have symptoms.

“We are also working on bringing on additional labs here in the state of Indiana so we can divide and conquer the number of labs we have,” Box said. “Honestly there are some shortages of plastic materials that the labs need to run these labs. It’s really a juggling act similar to what we had early on with testing.”

The average COVID-19 testing turnaround time for IU Health patients is 58 hours, or just over two days.

However, some patients are experiencing longer wait times for their results.

“IU Health, like every lab, is experiencing a larger demand for COVID-10 testing due to increased community spread,” Jonathon Hosea, IU Health spokesperson, said. “In addition to IU Health patients, we provide COVID-19 testing to non-IU Health hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and public health departments throughout the state.”

Have you waited a long time to get a COVID-19 test appointment and/or your results? Email WRTV Investigates Kara Kenney at kara.kenney@wrtv.com