Coronavirus in Florida: More people getting tested for COVID-19 means longer wait times and delayed results

As the number of positive coronavirus cases in Florida continues to rise, more and more people are getting themselves tested.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – As the number of positive coronavirus cases in Florida continues to rise, more and more people are getting themselves tested. 

The increase in testing has brought longer lines and slowed down the time it takes to receive results. 

In Florida alone, more than 2.2 million people have been tested and that number is only going up.

Martin Torres says he was feeling achy and exhausted two weeks ago, so he decided to go to Hard Rock Stadium for a COVID-19 test, just in case.

“It’s a big frustration at this point,” he said. 

Torres waited in line for seven hours and when he finally got through, they told him his results would be ready in about five days.

So about five days later, he logged into the website on the paperwork he was given. 

“I check in, I open profile and nothing,” Torres explained. “They asked me for my social security number, the four last ones, I put it and they say it’s not available, my test.”

So he called a phone number on his paperwork looking for answers and still, nothing.

Seven days went by, then ten. Now, 14 days later, he still doesn’t have his results.

“I am in kind of limbo waiting (for) when I can have a response for that, it’s important,” Torres said. 

According to the state, at least part of the reason for the delay is a tidal wave of people getting tested.

Over 2,000,000 people have been tested in Florida, and of the more than 213,000 positive cases statewide, more than 200,000 of those tests of been processed by hospital and commercial labs. 

And those labs tell Local 10 they are overwhelmed. 

One of the major lab companies, Quest Diagnostics, tells us demand is surging and, in a statement, said, "We are doing everything we can to bring more COVID-19 testing to patients in the United States at this critical time. This week, we intend to ramp up our capacity to reach 120,000 molecular diagnostic tests a day, compared to 115,000 last week. Over the month of July, we will continue to ramp up our capacity to reach 150,000 molecular diagnostic tests a day."

Quest said the average time for a test turn around for most people is three to five days, and they are looking into why Torres' results are taking so long.

Bottom line though, as for how it will be fixed, the labs are going to have to get creative and find ways to speed up their processing of the tests, even as more and more people get tested.

The Joint Information Center on COVID-19 for the State of Florida released a statement to Local 10 News regarding testing and results, and it states: 

"Every day, state-supported sites send their samples to commercial labs for testing. These tests are performed as quickly as possible, and often are available within 72 hours of being received by the lab. Once the lab results are available, individuals are contacted as quickly as possible, with priority being placed on anyone who tested positive. 

"In order to expedite the confirmation of results, the state has expanded the capacity to contact individuals who are tested at these sites. Specifically, the state has streamlined these results to come from a HIPAA compliant, contracted call center, which can contact up to 10,000 individuals per day.

“If an individual is experiencing difficulty obtaining their results, we encourage them to email so we can further assist them.”

About the Author:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.