HOUSTON — Seven days into 2022 and COVID-19 test reporting delays continue to be a problem.
The city of Houston says it's working to ensure their mega sites can get results back to folks within three days at the latest. But many people are on day 4 or 5 and still have no results.
Cherissa Crawford is nearly at day 7 and is still waiting.
"It's very frustrating," said Crawford. "I had a lot of symptoms that I couldn't distinguish if it was flu, COVID or both."
On New Year's Day, she took advantage of open appointments at the city's Minute Maid Park mega testing site at Lot C run by DAVACO. It seemed easy enough.
"They were opening, got to me real quick and everything seemed to go fine," said Crawford.
Three days later, she called for an update.
"The wait time initially was 345 minutes," said Crawford.
When she finally got through, results weren't available.
Fast forward to Friday.
"Now we're almost 7 days and I still can't get test results," said Crawford.
Her symptoms now gone. She isolated for five days as CDC recommends and is now back to work. But not everyone can and she worries these delays will lead to further spread.
"What is the point of taking the test if we can't get our results," said Crawford. "Then we don't know what guidelines to follow and we can't protect ourselves from one another."
Tonight, Houston Health Department sent KHOU 11 News this statement from DAVACO who runs the Minute Maid Park site:
“As the Omicron variant continues to spread, we are seeing a significant increase in demand for COVID-19 testing across the city of Houston and our entire lab network. We appreciate the public’s understanding that our associates and partners have also been impacted by this latest surge. Our lab is experiencing delays in results due to the influx of test volume. We understand this has caused notification delays. Due to this increase in demand, our lab is now working 24 hours a day. Going forward, we have put a plan in place to get all results out to those tested no later than 72 hours after their visit. For those that tested within the last five days, our lab is working as quickly as possible to process the test results. We appreciate the public’s understanding as we all work together to remain informed and safe during this latest influx of COVID cases.”
The city says it's not just demand slowing down reporting across area mega sites.
"The turnaround time is heavily influenced by staffing I think that's been the major issue," said Director Stephen Williams.
Whatever the issue, Crawford says there's got to be a better way to get people answers faster.
"If we're going to have all the testing sites we need to make sure we have the people in the lab that can help," said Crawford.
Below are other current wait times for other HHD affiliated sites:
- Houston Health Department-operated multi-service center sites are averaging 48-72 hours for result notification.
- Curative, an HHD testing partner, is averaging 48-72 hours for result notification.
- United Memorial Medical Center, an HHD testing partner, is averaging 36-48 hours for result notification.