COVID-19 test result speeds vary from clinic to clinic

Updated: Jul. 10, 2020 at 6:32 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - While it is pretty easy to get a nasal swab test at a variety of locations, getting the results can vary widely.

Memorial Hospital at Gulfport has seen test results take 7 to 10 days to come back. Others have been faster.

“Our nasal swabs are typically taking about 24 to 48 hours to come back,” said Dr. George Loukatos, owner of Alpha Care Urgent Care in Biloxi and Ocean Springs.

Loukatos said they send samples to their lab in Mobile twice a day, but there can be some variation depending on the day of the week.

“It’s generally three to five days depending on the volume of people that we test,” said Jason Ely, director of primary care medical clinics at Singing River Health System. “It could be a little bit longer, and sometimes if we decrease the numbers, it could be a little bit shorter.”

Everyone has seen an increased volume of people coming in for the test.

“We are doubled if not more than doubled the testing that we are doing now than we did last month,” Ely said.

“Our volume of testing has gone up so much that the great limiting factor has been become calling everybody their results,” Loukatos said. One of his clinics went from 50 tests a day to 75 in just a few days this week.

That means that the clinic may have your results, but they haven’t had time to call you yet.

Not only has the volume of tests gone up, but the percentage of positive tests has increased, in some cases dramatically.

“Week by week, I’d say just three weeks ago it was less than five to ten percent,” Loukatos said on Thursday. “It’s been growing by the day it seems like. The batch we got today was 33%, but I would say on average it has been 25%.”

“Over the last couple of weeks, our number of positives have increased to around ten percent,” Ely said.

Coastal Family Health Care in Biloxi said this week, they are seeing up to 11% positive results in some age groups, and Memorial Hospital at Gulfport is at seven percent.

“Right now we’re kind of encouraging anybody that needs to be tested to do it,” Ely said.

The only good news out of these test results is that most patients are not experiencing severe symptoms and the rate of hospitalization has been low.

“I am encouraged that people don’t seem to be terribly sick,” Loukatos said. “To my knowledge, out of the probably over 100 people who have tested positive, only one has been hospitalized, but I do worry about it getting into the populations that we’re worried about like the nursing homes and the elderly.”

Singing River Health System will have drive-up testing for anyone who wants it Friday, July 17 at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Pascagoula from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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