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More than 60% of Americans wait more than three days for their COVID-19 test results

Five percent of Americans wait TWO WEEKS for their COVID-19 test results, and it takes more than 60 percent of patients at least three days to find out if they are positive

  • Researchers asked more than 19,000 people if they had been tested for COVID-19 and how long they waited to receive their results
  • Only 37% of people tested received their results within two days
  • About 31% said it took more than four days to receive results, while 21% waited more than five days
  • About 10% of respondents said they had waited between 10 and 14 days to find out if they were positive or negative
  • Delays in returning results prevent people from isolating and identifying contact tracers the patients may have seen while they were contagious

Most Americans wait more than three days for their coronavirus test results, which undermines the need to quickly isolate people and contact spores, a new survey reveals.

Researchers found that 63 percent of those tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, did not get results for at least 72 hours.

The average waiting time was four days, and for about five percent of surveyors, they wait to know if they were positive or negative for 14 days.

The team, led by Northeastern University in Boston, says that a person is contagious for about a week, so delaying results by just one day increases the risk of an infected person transmitting the virus to someone else.

A new survey found that only 37% of people tested received their results within two days, and about 31% said it took more than four days to receive results (above)

A new survey found that only 37% of people tested received their results within two days, and about 31% said it took more than four days to receive results (above)

About 10% of respondents said they had waited between 10 and 14 days to find out if they were positive or negative. Pictured: Ignacio Recendez watches Ana Recendez smear her nose for COVID-19 in Ontario, California, July 24

About 10% of respondents said they had waited between 10 and 14 days to find out if they were positive or negative. Pictured: Ignacio Recendez watches Ana Recendez smear her nose for COVID-19 in Ontario, California, July 24

About 10% of respondents said they had waited between 10 and 14 days to find out if they were positive or negative. Pictured: Ignacio Recendez watches Ana Recendez smear her nose for COVID-19 in Ontario, California, July 24

“This is absolutely the case when the stable doors are closed after the horses have escaped,” said co-author Dr. David Lazer, leading professor of political science and computer and information sciences on the northeastern side.

Tracing contact and isolation is too slow to be effective

For the reportThe team surveyed 19,058 people across the country between July 10 and July 26, 2020.

They asked people if they had been tested for COVID-19 and how long they waited for their results.

About 37 percent of those who were tested received their result within two days, meaning it took 63 days for three days or more.

About 31 percent said it took more than four days to receive results, while 21 percent waited more than five days.

At least 10 percent of respondents waited between 10 and 14 days to get their results.

The waiting period did not improve as the pandemic continued. Those who were last tested in April waited about 4.2 days to get results, and for those last tested in July, they waited about 4.1 days.

“Given the timing of how fast and how long a person is contagious, speed in producing reliable enough results is essential for COVID-19,” the authors wrote.

There were even differences along racial lines.

Black and Hispanic patients waited an average of five days for their test results compared to an average of four days for white patients.

Lazer said the reason for delays in getting results back is due to a bottleneck in national testing labs.

“They’re just overwhelmed,” he said.

Researchers say one solution to the backlog could be to make available widespread home tests, which have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“If people with COVID-19 simply manifested themselves with a purple nose before they were contagious, the disease would be easier to control and disappear quickly,” the researchers wrote.

“Testing is the functional equivalent of that purple nose.”

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