coronavirus testing

Why is There a Delay in Getting Coronavirus Test Results?

Many who are being tested for COVID-19 report getting results up to 14 days later.

NBC Universal, Inc.

An alarming number of people in California and across the nation are facing a very troubling waiting game. They have taken a COVID test, but find themselves waiting as much as 14 days to find out if they are positive of negative.

Now some are warning that delay could make other efforts to contain the virus virtually useless.

Add Alicia Ortega to the list of people who got tested and had to wait two weeks for results.

"I was looking every minute, every second to see if they were back and they weren't," Ortega said. "I was calling for an update."

Ortega took her test at Kaiser Permanente and eventually got her results, which turned out negative.

Testing done at the PAL Stadium in San Jose is run by Google's sister company Verily. Results from the center are also delayed due to increased testing nationwide, officials said.

Doctors said the delays could erase the efforts to trace and contain the spread.

"With contact tracing, the idea is you want to be tested and then to a case investigation quickly" Santa Clara County Public Health Department's Dr. Marty Fenstershieb said. "Find that person who they came in contact with, notify them to shelter so they can isolate themselves."

Dr. Ashish Jha with the Harvard Global Health Institute said "delays in testing and inadequate testing are making people sicker, are making the outbreaks bigger, and are leading to more deaths."

Meanwhile, it took Kaiser two weeks to give Ortega the all clear.

"Huge relief to see the negative results to know I'm in the clear and not infecting anybody," she said.

But Ortega wonders what is she was not negative and had spent two weeks carrying and spreading the virus.

Doctors said that is exactly what they are worried about.

Contact Us