The City of St. Louis Department of Health is once again notifying the public that some commercial laboratories are experiencing delays in processing COVID-19 tests. On May 24th the Department of Health originally alerted the public to this issue.
The delay in processing means longer wait times for patients to find out if they are positive or negative. The delays also raise concerns of an accurate picture being portrayed when results are held and then released. It might appear that there are hot spots or a resurgence of cases, when in fact the large case counts might actually be test results not being released in a timely manner.
“We rely on the testing data in the decision making process for mitigation and reopening strategies,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for the City of St. Louis. “The untimely release of results can provide a misleading picture of the spread of the virus and hamper our response efforts.”
Because the issue was identified in late May, staff from the Department of Health have been monitoring how the test results are batched. This allowed for the recent discovery of delays in the processing of the test results.