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Families in limbo waiting for COVID-19 test results, unable to work

Coronavirus test
Posted at 5:03 PM, Jul 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 19:15:39-04

A lag in processing COVID-19 tests is putting individuals and families in limbo as many are forced to quarantine at home while waiting for test results to come back.

“I don’t see why they can’t figure out how to get the testing done faster,” James Swatzell, who lives in San Tan Valley, told ABC15. On July 9, Swatzell’s son was tested for coronavirus and strep throat after exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. The strep test quickly came back as negative, Swatzell said, but the family is still waiting for the results of the coronavirus test. Pending those, both he and his son aren’t allowed to return to work.

“It’s nerve-racking,” he said. “My employer keeps wanting to know what’s going on,” adding that his sick time set aside for quarantining is set to run out next week. On Thursday, he said the family was informed it would take an additional week to receive the results. Neither he nor his son is showing symptoms.

In Arizona, the majority of COVID-19 tests are processed by Sonora Quest, a private lab company. Earlier this month, Governor Doug Ducey announced “Project Catapult” — an effort, he said, for the state to partner with Sonora Quest and increase its processing capacity to 35,000 tests per day by the end of July and 60,000 by the end of August.

In the meantime, other families tell ABC15 they are concerned about losing their jobs or being unable to make ends meet because a single member of their household is still waiting for test results back and all of their family members’ employers are not allowing them to return to work pending the result.

On Sunday morning, Colorado Governor Jared Polis was asked about turnaround times in his state on NBC’s Meet the Press.

“The national testing scene is a complete disgrace,” he said. “Every test we send out to private lab partners nationally, seven days — eight days — nine days… Six days if we’re lucky… is almost useless from an epidemiological or even diagnostic perspective.” Polis said Colorado is working to expanding state processing capacity as quickly as possible to bypass private lab companies.