Jul. 13--Some people are waiting more than a week for COVID-19 test results, hindering efforts to contain the virus in states that have seen growing case counts.
Increased demand for testing has disrupted the supply chain and overloaded labs, leading to delays in recent weeks, McClatchy News and other media outlets reported.
"It makes contact tracing almost useless," Crystal R. Watson of Johns Hopkins University told The Washington Post. "By the time a person is getting results, they already have symptoms, their contacts may already have symptoms and have gone on to infect others."
What are people experiencing?
Contact tracing is among the tools used to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Through interviews with an infected person, health officials determine others who may have been exposed to the virus and encourage those people to stay home, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Testing is the foundation on which the response is built," Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and professor at University of California, Irvine, told The Sacramento Bee.
But health experts told news outlets finding and isolating people who may have been exposed has become difficult amid testing slowdowns. Some have been reported in Texas, Florida and Arizona, states that also are experiencing recent spikes in coronavirus cases, according to Vox.
Sam Lee of Texas said he tried three times before he finally got a COVID-19 test, the Associated Press reported.
"If you have symptoms and you are just driving around the city trying to figure out how you can get a test, for people who are positive, it is not ideal," Lee told the news outlet.
In Florida, Martin Torres said he felt "achy and exhausted" when he waited seven hours for testing, WPLG reported. Fourteen days later, he hadn't found out whether he had contracted the virus, according to the TV station.
Amanda Aguirre, who oversees clinics in Arizona, said she thinks result wait times of up to two weeks are making people back away from getting tested, The Washington Post reported.
Why are there delays?
Since the first coronavirus cases were reported in the country, states have ramped up their testing capacities.
But the efforts weren't enough to combat rising case counts that came when some governors lifted coronavirus-related restrictions, The Kansas City Star reported. It's becoming harder for companies that make testing supplies to stay on pace with demand, according to the newspaper.
"We are seeing across the board this very significant increase in demand," Julie Khani, president of the American Clinical Laboratory Association, told USA Today. "That demand in many cases is now exceeding the number of tests that the labs can perform in a single day."
Health experts have said a national plan could help coordinate efforts and identify potential backlogs, the newspaper and other outlets reported. President Donald Trump's administration has left testing up to state and local officials, with the federal government acting as a "supplier of last resort," Vox reported.
The CDC says people who have coronavirus symptoms or may have been exposed to the disease should call their doctors before getting tested. Those who haven't been tested should avoid going in public, officials say.
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