As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb, Douglas County has responded with an increase in testing.

But it faces new delays in getting results back. Tamara Howell, spokeswoman for the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team, said in an email that a bottleneck at the labs is due to increased testing nationwide.

Until recently, the labs were turning around test results in two to three days. Now, it’s between seven and 11 days, a lag time Howell said is worrisome.

The new lab delays aren’t unique to Douglas County, though. They’re happening around the country as outbreaks increase, making it harder for labs to keep up. And public health officials across the country have expressed concern about the impact of those delays on their ability to quickly trace contacts and contain the spread of the disease.

“This is not something we can control,” Howell said. “The labs are working hard to get caught back up and reduce wait times. We will continue to work with them, exercise patience with the process and remain hopeful that turn-around times will be reduced soon.”

The county uses several labs, but primarily Quest, and Howell said they’ve been very impressed with their quality and responsiveness.

In a press release, Quest reported that its average turnaround time is now seven days, with some patients receiving results as quickly as two or three days and a few having to wait up to two weeks.

Top priority patients, including hospital patients and health care workers, have quicker return times.

Quest said countrywide demand for testing is simply outpacing its capacity and that is true especially in the West, Southwest and South.

The company noted the United States is experiencing a surge in cases, with record numbers in the past week. It said it is adapting by obtaining FDA approval for new and faster testing techniques and asking providers to prioritize patients believed to be at higher risk.

“At Quest Diagnostics, we are doing everything we can to bring more COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing to patients at this critical time,” the release said.

Despite the delays, the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team continues its work following the Oregon Health Authority’s guidelines, tracing people who came into contact with those who’ve tested positive and asking them to self-quarantine either at home, with friends or family, or in motels, Howell said. Those in isolation receive continued support during their quarantine.

“Our teams have done an amazing job with case investigation and management, despite the delays with test results,” Howell said.

The team also continues to offer drive-thru testing at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

In March, the drive-thru was providing most of the testing in the county. As other healthcare providers began offering testing as well, the percentage of total tests done by the drive-thru compared with all tests in the county has declined.

The News-Review compared statistics from the 20th of each month and found the percentage of testing done at the drive-thru dropped from 46% of all countywide tests on April 20 to 25% on May 20 to 18% on June 20 to 17% on July 20.

However, Howell said the demand for drive-thru tests has increased in recent weeks, and some of the largest testing numbers have been during that time.

According to the daily reports from the team, the drive-thru collected samples for 363 tests in the month-long period ending Monday, an uptick from previous months. That compares to 271 between May 20 and June 20; 174 between April 20 and May 20; and 282 between March 20 and April 20. The first of the drive-thru clinics was on March 17.

In total, 1,142 of the 6,680 tested countywide were tested at the drive-thru clinics.

Howell said the county has the capacity to cover the need and is ready if the demand for drive-thru testing continues to grow.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(8) comments

Mike

When I weed my garden, I don't wait until its out of control before deciding I need to get going.

CitizenJoe

Exactly. The other day, a Republican (arguing against masks and social distancing) indicated that "the barn isn't completely on fire" so, "it isn't time to call 911, yet." That person doesn't understand fires, 911, or grade-school science.

There's a lot of that going around.

Mike

Do you need a Coronavirus test? You don’t have an appointment? Want an at-home test kit? The Oregon Health Authority (below link) now provides a website to tell you where ALL the closest testing sites are in your zip code even if you don’t have an appointment.

This website provides a much greater number and variety of testing facilities both inside and outside of Douglas County than what Douglas County Public Health Network publishes on it's website. It also allows you to sign up for an at-home test kit. How come DPHN hasn't been telling people about this website?

https://govstatus.egov.com/or-oha-covid-19-testing

Mike

The Roseburg Veterans Affairs reported another new coronavirus case today, bringing its total to 14

Rise722

I suppose you want to blame Trump for people dying in other countries too?

CitizenJoe

Yes. Trump asserts he bears no responsibility at all. His inadequate response is responsible for well over 100,000 of the Americans who have already died, and for most of the Americans who will die of this virus. Other countries acted far more aggressively and intelligently and did not downplay the infection; Trump and his allies dismissed the seriousness and insisted that cases would go to zero, and that the virus would disappear, like magic. So, in answer to your question, to the extent someone in the United States contracted the disease due to Trump's incompetence, and then infected anyone who then died of COVID-19 in another country, yes. He has their blood on his hands.

CitizenJoe

This delay represents a national failure that continues to cost lives (over a thousand American lives yesterday, alone). The president and his minions have failed the American people repeatedly. Now we have over a quarter of the world's cases and deaths, and one of the highest mortality rates in the world The testing is "perfect," Trump asserted, adding, "just like the phone call was perfect." Yep. Tired of winning.

TJ

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