COVID-19 testing: Your questions answered

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SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT)– There can be some confusion surrounding COVID-19 testing as more and more people need to get swabbed. Different tests for the coronavirus have different wait times for results.

“The one where they swab up your nose and tickle your brains is what we call a viral PCR. That can be back in as little as 24 hours. But I think there’s been a delay lately is because of the volume of testing. It’s just overwhelmed the capacity of local labs,” said Dr. Amy Bentley Illescas.

The viral PCR tests typically have to be mailed to a lab for testing. Rapid tests are completed at the same location in which the test was administered, which means a quicker turnaround.

“We run it on an analyzer here in the lab. That result will be available on the same day or the next day,” said Terry Pouncey, the owner of ARCpoint Labs. His facility will begin rapid testing next week.

Photo courtesy of ARCpoint Lab

If an unused swab gets sent to a lab by a mistake, it’s identified as inclusive. If you get results but weren’t tested, it’s most likely a human error.

“There are human beings involved in the testing at the labs and unfortunately, clerical errors can be made,” Dr. Illescas said.

Some patients take less time than others to get tested, this depends on whether or not they’ve visited the testing clinic before.

“A lot of clinics, including our own, are testing people that are not our patients, so we’re having to do a lot of paperwork and administrative stuff,” said Dr. Illescas.

Prices vary depending on where you get tested. Some clinics will call you with results, others will leave it to the lab to email results.


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