Demand For COVID Testing Causes Supply Shortages and Longer Wait Times For Results

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COVID testing sites across the city are trying to keep up with demand. The line at Howard Brown Health nearly wrapped around the building Wednesday morning.

Less than a mile away the line was out the door at a different location.

“It’s crazy because when I got here we were first ones,“ said one woman. “We got in and when we got out it was a big line. It’s like I got lucky.”

The nationwide surge in COVID testing has led to a shortage of testing supplies and even longer wait times for results.

“I came a few days ago, got my test results negative. My partner came yesterday to get tested, but didn’t receive her results,” said Jas Cornell.

Cornell said they would normally get their PCR test results back within a matter of hours at the provider on Broadway Avenue, but that wasn’t the case this time around.

“Luckily we were both off these past two days to be able to stay home,” Cornell said. “But also we want those results.”

The founder of Center for COVID Control told NBC 5 they’ve seen a dramatic increase in testing. PCR testing numbers jumped from 8,000 per day to 85,000 per day in a month for their operation nationwide.

The founder said there’s been a delay in processing the results because of the demand and shortage of lab workers.

“I know that PCR turnaround times for labs that are actually in better hands, doing well, are five days six days turnaround times,” said Ali Syed.

Physicians Immediate Care posted a message on its website saying due to a shortage of testing supplies, PCR testing is available only by appointment and only for patients who do not have symptoms. Some people are opting to book appointment through their family doctor for testing.

“We have been fortunate enough to provide enough testing for patients who request it,” said Dr. Payal Adhikari, pediatrician who runs a private practice. “At this point our supplier is not allowing bulk order the way that they used too. It’s just mostly our monthly allowance of tests.”

Adhikari said there's been days where her office experienced a backlog of tests.

“There’s a limit to how many tests can run at a time and with each tests requiring an hour worth of the machines there,” she said. “There’s only a certain amount of test that can be run each day.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health said the state is not seeing a shortage of testing supplies at its 10 community-based testing sites or SHIELD testing locations.

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