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Lack of testing supplies, surge in testing mean long waits for COVID-19 results from private facilities

CVS is one of several private test facilities seeing a spike in testing as people try to avoid waiting at state-run sites.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It’s not just long lines people are waiting on for COVID-19 testing. Now it’s even longer waits to get results.

With lines wrapping around the street at Lot J and other state-run COVID-19 testing sites, many people are turning to private-run sites like CVS.

Like many Duval county residents hoping to avoid the long wait time for results at Lot J, I went to CVS and was told my results would be back in 2-4 days.

It’s now been nine days with no results.

The CVS MinuteClinic says it’s because their third-party lab is backed up because more people hope to get faster results from them than at a state-run site. 

Chad Neilsen, the infectious disease director with UF Health in Jacksonville, says the delay is because “Everyone is starting to run out of test re-agents.”

The test re-agent is the chemistry needed to run the test kit swabs on the machines.

“If we don’t have the chemical re-agents in the lab to run the test -- your sample -- we can’t do anything with it,” Neilsen said.

Another reason for the delays, 

"Testing centers are oftentimes out of state, and they’re accepting tests from 10 different states,” Neilsen said.

Meaning your test is one of thousands being batched together to be processed outside of Florida. Those volumes combined with lack of testing resources,

“Is going to equal a longer wait time for the consumer,” Neilsen said.

A spokesperson for CVS said in a statement to First Coast News, 

"We are committed to expanding COVID-19 testing capabilities across the country, and providing patients with results in a timely fashion so they can take the appropriate next steps. In some cases, patients who have been tested at our CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations may experience a delay in receiving their test results, due to high demand and temporary processing capacity limitations at our third-party partner labs."

With patients in limbo, not wanting to get others sick, especially if they could be asymptomatic Neilsen warns to “continue to monitor your own behavior, your social distancing, your mask-wearing.”

Both the Department of Health in Duval County and CVS now say wait times for results are between 3-5 days.

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