It may take more than a week to get COVID-19 test results in S.C.; commercial labs hope to help

It may take more than a week to get COVID-19 test results in S.C.; commercial labs hope to help
It may take more than a week to get COVID-19 test results in S.C., but commercial labs hope to help. (Source: Adam Mintzer)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - More than 1,400 people have been tested for coronavirus in South Carolina, according to DHEC. But it takes some hospitals a week or more after a patient takes the COVID-19 test to report the results.

Therefore, the number of new cases reported every day in South Carolina may include patients who were tested last week.

A spokesperson for Lexington Medical Center said it takes, on average, seven to 10 days for the hospital to tell patients their COVID-19 test results. It’s a range she said is the state average. A spokesperson for Prisma Health said their range is similar, but can sometimes be quicker -- like four to seven days.

Lynn Weeks was diagnosed with the coronavirus on March 12 and considers herself lucky. In addition to not being anxious about the wait because she was able to lean on her religion, she only had to wait four days to get her results.

“Without our faith…that struggle…I can’t imagine people waiting without what we have to fall back on,” she said.

Weeks went to her primary care physician in Kershaw County to get tested and says her doctor sent her results to LabCorp, a commercial lab.

While DHEC said their labs are averaging 24 to 48 hours from the time they receive the sample to the time they tell health care professionals the results, they are just one organization facing an unprecedented demand for testing.

Hospitals like Prisma Health say they are exploring every possibility to expedite testing, and one of those is relying more on commercial labs.

In recent weeks, the FDA has taken steps to let commercial labs test for COVID-19.

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Vikor Scientific is one such lab in Charleston, which can test for COVID-19 now that the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for a test Vikor can conduct.

On Monday, Vikor believes its lab will be able to process tests in just 24 hours from the moment they receive the sample. In fact, soon the commercial lab hopes to test 1,500 kits a day, according to co-founder Shea Harrelson.

“It seems governmental agencies and local state departments just can not serve all these patients at one time,” Harrelson said.

She says labs like hers are ready to ease the burden and get results out fast.

“All of the commercials are getting ready to come to market with this test,” she said. “We are going to be able to diagnose more quickly, and let patients know if they have it and if they don’t, and let patients get to a treatment plan much faster.”

However, there are still some hold-ups preventing Harrelson’s lab from reaching its full capacity.

“It’s just been very hard because all these supplies have been on back order all over the U.S. and we are having to reach out internationally just to find the swabs, and the masks and the PPE gear,” she said.

But Harrelson says once more swabs reach her lab and other commercial labs, South Carolina can expect to see a big spike in confirmed coronavirus tests.

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