NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) – According to the New Orleans Public Health Department, more than 8,000 people who were showing symptoms of coronavirus have been tested for the infection at federal drive-thru sites in Orleans and Jefferson Parish since March 20. But the department said that less than half of the people swabbed at the New Orleans sites have received their results.
“We had expected test results to come back within three to five days,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of the New Orleans Public Health Department. “We are now 11, 12 since the beginning and we’ve gotten some pretty variable results … Obviously, that’s incredibly anxiety producing and that’s not what people need at a time like this.”
Avegno said thousands of test results from testing sites at the UNO Lakefront Arena and Armstrong Park in New Orleans, as well as the Alario Center in Jefferson Parish, still have not been released from commercial labs hired by the federal government to transport and process the tests.
She said the department was flooded by calls from people concerned about the delay so they set up a call center at the Orleans Communication District to get people the answers they need.
To receive results from the three federal test sites, people are asked to call 311. A dispatcher will relay their information to health department who has turned a board room at the district into another call center, where they are calling people back with any information they have on that person’s test.
“The way we learn this pandemic is going to end is by information and so when you call 311 we will give you the most up to date and complete information we have available to you,” said Tyrell Morris, executive director of the Orleans Communication District.
Avegno said the health department is advocating for the immediate release of the backlog of results. The 311 call center is open 24-hours a day.
By: Jennifer Crockett