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Gov. DeSantis: Florida will divert COVID-19 tests to labs with shorter turnaround time

Posted at 5:15 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 18:18:03-04

Experts and officials continue to stress the importance of widespread, rapid COVID-19 testing as part of stopping the spread of the virus, but the current turnaround time for tests is far less than ideal.

During a press conference in Bradenton over the weekend, Governor DeSantis said the turnaround time for COVID-19 tests is not what Florida signed up for.

“When we did our contracts with these private labs, they were guaranteeing a 48-hour turnaround, well that’s just not in the cards anywhere in the country,” Governor Ron DeSantis said during a press conference at Blake Medical Center on Saturday.

Right now, the labs providing the majority of results for Floridians are Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp.

Quest Diagnostics reports an average turnaround time of 7 or more days, while LabCorp reports an average turnaround time of 4 to 6 days after they receive the results from the testing site. But for some, the wait is longer.

“We went and did our test on July 2. Erika got her test back on July 7. I did not receive mine until yesterday,” said William Smith, who waited 13 days for results from Quest Diagnostics.

William and his fiance had plans to fly to the Bahamas to bring home clients, but the Bahamas requires you to get COVID-19 test results back within 10 days of your test before you can visit. His results took 13 days.

“If mine went out at the same time hers went out, I don’t know why she got hers back in 5 days, and I got mine back in 13,” said Smith.

For useful contact tracing, experts warn, that’s much too late.

“Ideally within 24 hours. It’s OK within three days,” said Dr. Charles Lockwood, Dean of the Morsani College of Medicine at USF.

On Wednesday, Governor DeSantis announced the state will start diverting tests to smaller labs that might have a shorter turnaround time.

“What the labs in Florida can do is to have labs up north that are no longer as busy as they were, help them by either doing some of the assays, sending them up there on a daily basis, or sending reagents,” said Dr. Lockwood.

The Governor’s Office has not mentioned specific labs, only that they are exploring options.